It’s Been Just Over a Year Since the Pandemic Swept the World. Here Are the Most Vital Stories We Published as It Unfolded

From the art market to museums, here are our top stories from a year in lockdown.

People wearing protective face masks outside the Louvre in Paris. Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images.

The past year has been a whirlwind: wildfires raged in California, Donald Trump was impeached for a second time, protests against police violence erupted around the world, and an unheard of virus swept the planet, bringing life, as we knew it, to a standstill.

As we look back on the one-year mark of the World Health Organization’s declaration of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve compiled our 2020–21 COVID-19-related coverage, from its effects on the art market and the museum world, to the ways in which we found some levity.

All told, we published more than 3,000 stories in 2020. Here are some of the most important.



Auctioneer Oliver Barker holding court over Sotheby's global e-auctions. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Auctioneer Oliver Barker holding court over Sotheby’s global e-auctions. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

What Actually Works When It Comes to Selling Art Online? Successful Early Adopters Share 5 of Their Business Secrets by Tim Schneider, March 19, 2020

Will the African Art Market’s Recent Rise Withstand the Shutdown? Dealers Say There’s Reason for Hope by Naomi Rea, July 14, 2020

Millennials Are More Interested in Buying Art Than Ever—and 5 Other Takeaways From a New Art Basel Report on the State of the Market by Eileen Kinsella, Spetember 9, 2020

Subscriptions Work for Wine and Razors… So Why Not Artworks? Here’s How One Gallery Is Rethinking Art Sales to Make It Through Lockdown by Tim Schneider, October 29, 2020

Virtual Art Fairs Were Seen as a Lifeline in the Lockdown Era. A New Study Shows They Are Failing New York’s Art Market by Tim Schneider, November 18, 2020

In a Year of Unprecedented Financial Strain, Germany Has Approved a €2.1 Billion Culture Budget—Its Largest Ever by Kate Brown, November 30, 2020

Here’s What It’s Like on the Ground in Miami Beach, Where Zombie Art Basel Is Happening, Sort Of by Nate Freeman, December 4, 2020

Top Auction Houses Saw Total Sales Drop in 2020—But Sotheby’s Outpaced Rival Christie’s With $5 Billion in Revenue by Eileen Kinsella, December 18, 2020

Here Are the 10 Most Expensive Works of Art Sold at Auction in 2020—and Why They Fetched the Prices They Did by Eileen Kinsella, December 14, 2020

Despite Government Bailouts, Nearly 80 Percent of French Galleries Saw Their Income Decline in 2020, a New Report Shows by Naomi Rea, February 3, 2021

Suddenly, Paris Is Once Again a Buzzing Capital of the Contemporary Art Market. Here’s How It Regained Its Glory by Naomi Rea, March 1, 2021

After a Year of Being Forced to Sell Art Online, Gallerists Have Learned 5 Surprising Lessons—and It’s Clear There’s No Going Back by Eileen Kinsella & Kate Brown, March 2, 2021



A cleaner wipes down the handrails in the British Museum the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on people to stay home and avoid all non-essential contacts and travel in order to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images.

A cleaner wipes down the handrails in the British Museum. Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images.

‘This Is the Biggest Challenge We’ve Faced Since the War’: How the Coronavirus Crisis Is Exposing the Precarious Position of Museums Worldwide by Julia Halperin & Javier Pes, March 26, 2020

‘Nothing Prepares You for This’: Top UK Museum Directors Reveal What It Takes to Put an Art Institution on Lockdown by Javier Pes, March 27, 2020

After a Van Gogh Heist Rattled Museums and Collectors, Experts Weigh in on How to Protect Your Art During a Lockdown by Naomi Rea, April 1, 2020

Museums Are Urgently Collecting Homemade Masks and Other Ephemera From the Coronavirus Pandemic to Document History as It Unfolds by Sarah Cascone, April 8, 2020

What Does the Public Want From Art in a Post-COVID World? Here Are 5 Takeaways From a Massive New Study by Ben Davis, July 8, 2020

Following Heated Online Protests, the Whitney Has Cancelled a Planned Exhibition Featuring Lockdown-Era Works It Bought at Charity Auctions by Naomi Rea, August 26, 2020

American Museums Are Taking Advantage of Relaxed Rules to Sell More Than $100 Million of Art at Auction This Season by Eileen Kinsella, October 5, 2020

The Smithsonian Adds the First Vial of COVID Vaccine Ever Distributed in the US to Its Collection by Sarah Cascone, March 9, 2021



Illustrations by Mona Chalabi. Courtesy of the artist.

Illustrations by Mona Chalabi. Courtesy of the artist.

Being an Artist Is the Second Safest Profession Amid a Coronavirus Outbreak (Behind Loggers), Data Says by Sarah Cascone, March 16, 2020

Artists Are Rallying to Donate Their Masks and Other Protective Gear to Hospitals Facing Shortages Around the US by Rachel Corbett, March 23, 2020

How We Should Reimagine Art’s Mission in the Time of ‘Social Distancing’ by Ben Davis, March 23, 2020

Literally Sit on Your Hands and 5 Other Pro Tips on How to Pull Off an Effective Virtual Studio Visit by Naomi Rea, March 24, 2020

11 Acclaimed Artists Offer Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Working From Home, Whether From Your Studio or Bedroom Office by Artnet News, 

‘There Is No Support System’: Art Handlers, the Invisible Muscle of the Multibillion-Dollar Art Industry, Face an Uncertain Future as Work Vanishes by Sarah Cascone & Eileen Kinsella, April 13, 2020

‘Everyone Is in a State of Panic Right Now’: 7 Mid-Career Artists on How They Are Facing the Enormous Challenges of the Coronavirus Pandemic by Naomi Rea, April 15, 2020

Top Museums Are Commissioning Locked-Down Artists to Create New Balcony Performances, Now the De Facto Art Form of the COVID-19 Era by Naomi Rea, April 21, 2020

‘I Shift Into Emergency Mode Pretty Easily’: Miranda July on How to Handle the Creative Obstacles—and Opportunities—of Quarantine by Naomi Rea, April 23, 2020

Meet Illustrator Mona Chalabi, the Data Sleuth Making Poignant Visualizations About the Full Impact of Racism by Naomi Rea, July 9, 2020

An Art Advisor, an Art Handler, and Other Cultural Workers Reflect on How Their Professional Lives Changed in 2020 by Artnet News, December 23, 2020



The lion statue with a mask in front of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images.

The lion statue with a mask in front of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty Images.

‘This Is an Unprecedented Disaster’: Art Schools Are Scrambling to Develop Contingency Plans for Students as Education Moves Online by Brian Boucher, March 18, 2020

The Job Market for Young Academics Was Already Bleak—Then the Pandemic Hit. Here’s How Art-History Grad Students Are Coping With the Fallout by Rachel Corbett & Eileen Kinsella, July 23, 2020

The Hard-Hit Arts Sector Is Facing a Brain Drain as Ambitious Workers Seek Greener Pastures by Zachary Small, September 15, 2020



Portraits of a year in lockdown. Courtesy of Artnet.

Portraits of a year in lockdown. Courtesy of Katie Rothstein for Artnet.

A Pair of Inventive Artists Developed an App That Enables Strangers in Quarantine All Over the World to Talk to Each Other by Naomi Rea, March 11, 2020

Zoom Is for Normies. Here’s Why the Whole Art World Is Getting Together on the Chaotic, Anything-Goes Video Chat App Houseparty by Nate Freeman, March 25, 2020

The Internet Can’t Get Enough of These Images of Masterpieces Devoid of People. Most Surprised by This Development? The Artist Behind Them by Sarah Cascone, March 25, 2020

Struggling to Entertain Kids at Home? These Art-Filled Online Classes, Tours, Coloring Books, and Quizzes Will Keep Them Busy by Katie White, March 31, 2020

See 15 Ways Bored People Around the World Have Used Household Objects to Recreate Famous Paintings From Art History by Caroline Goldstein, April 2, 2020

23 Top Collectors, Artists, and Dealers Tell Us About the Artwork That Is Keeping Them Inspired at Home by Artnet News, May 27, 2020

Here Are the Art Memes That Brought Us the Most Joy in 2020, From the Getty Challenge to Unbeatable Museum Bums by Katie Rothstein, December 23, 2020

These Are the 25 Art Projects That Social Media Went Bananas Over in 2020 by Sarah Cascone, December 28, 2020



The Mona Lisa is displayed in the empty "Salle des Etats" of the Louvre Museum in Paris. Photo by MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images.

The Mona Lisa is displayed in the empty “Salle des Etats” of the Louvre Museum in Paris. Photo by MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images.

In Pictures: See Eerie Pictures of the World’s Most Popular Cultural Sites Emptied by the Coronavirus by Artnet News, March 10, 2020

Street Artists Around the World Are Spreading an Urgent Message: Stay Home. See Their Works (From Your Couch) Here by Sarah Cascone & Caroline Goldstein, March 30, 2020

In Pictures: See Inside the Empty Louvre, Where Conservators Are Sprucing Up Masterpieces During Lockdown by Caroline Goldstein, February 4, 2021



Photo: Artnet News.

Photo: Artnet News.

The Art Angle Podcast: Three Ways Coronavirus Will Transform the Art World by Artnet News, March 26, 2020

The Art Angle Podcast: Ai Weiwei on the Coronavirus, China, and Art’s New Role by Artnet News, April 23, 2020

The Art Angle Podcast: Meet the Smithsonian Curator Who Turns Protesters’ T-Shirts Into National Treasures by Artnet News, June 19, 2020

The Art Angle Podcast: How the Heck Did Auction Houses Just Sell Almost a Billion Dollars in Art During a Global Pandemic? by Artnet News, July 17, 2020

The Art Angle Podcast: What New York’s Art World Looks Like Post-Lockdown by Artnet News, October 2, 2020

The Art Angle Podcast: Why New York’s Art Scene Will Reign Supreme Post-COVID by Artnet News, November 20, 2020

The Art Angle Podcast: I Survived Zombie Art Basel Miami Beach by Artnet News, December 11, 2020

The Art Angle Podcast: MoMA Curator Paola Antonelli on Design for the Post-Pandemic World by Artnet News, January 29, 2021

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