The Smithsonian Is Collecting Objects from the Capitol Takeover, and Other News

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The Smithsonian is collecting objects from last week’s Capitol takeover for its collection.

Dozens of objects from last week’s Capitol takeover are heading to the National Museum of American History. The museum, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution, announced that it would begin to archive protest signs, posters, and banners from last week’s pro-Trump rally and mob that stormed through the Capitol. “As an institution, we are committed to understanding how Americans make change,” Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s director, said in a statement. “This election season has offered remarkable instances of the pain and possibility involved in that process and reckoning with the past and shaping the future.” Museum curators embarked on a similar mission over the summer to collect ephemera from Black Lives Matter protests.

The MTA will retire the MetroCard in favor of OMNY’s contactless payment system.

In 2023, navigating the New York Subway will no longer require a MetroCard. The MTA is making strides toward a contactless payment system by installing 15,000 OMNY readers across the city at 472 stations—as well as 5,800 buses—as part of the rollout’s first phase. This means that commuters can now pay their fares by tapping contactless bank cards, an OMNY card, or smart devices equipped with digital wallets on OMNY readers. “The timing on this milestone could not be better,” Mario Péloquin, MTA Chief Operating Officer, said in a statement. “Contactless payment is the future and thanks to the OMNY team, the MTA will be at the forefront of this trend.” OMNY currently accounts for 10 percent of the system’s taps; the MTA expects that amount to grow considerably over the next year. 

Japan battles a third wave of coronavirus, calling the Tokyo Olympics into question. 

Tokyo is currently battling a third wave of coronavirus infections, prompting Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, to declare a month-long state of emergency in the capital and its three neighboring prefectures. Experts predict that the measures will need to stay in place beyond February to have any positive effect—timing that falls awfully close to the beginning of the 121-day torch relay being held to kick off the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed by a year due to the pandemic. Now a high-ranking Olympics official has said that, due to the country’s recent increase in cases, he isn’t certain the Games will proceed this summer. “I can’t be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus,” Dick Pound, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told the BBC. Concern over visiting athletes, fans, and officials sparking another outbreak has also turned public opinion against the games—a recent poll found that 63 percent of Japanese people support another delay—though IOC president Thomas Bach agreed that delaying the games a second time wouldn’t be possible.

Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection in Paris

Following a spike in Covid-19 cases, the opening of Bourse de Commerce gets postponed.

In France, the cultural sector will need to remain closed through the end of January due to escalating Covid-19 infections and fear of an aggressive new variant of the virus from the U.K. This restriction affects the long-awaited inauguration of the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection, the private museum that houses French luxury goods tycoon François Pinault’s contemporary art collection, which was scheduled to open on January 23. According to officials, the setup of the inaugural exhibition is complete and the museum is ready to welcome visitors as soon as the government restrictions ease. The highly anticipated opening of the museum, which was restored by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, has been delayed several times; it was originally scheduled to open this past summer. Regardless, the inauguration is expected to be one of Paris’s most significant cultural highlights this year. 

As a result of lockdowns, the Louvre Museum’s attendance dropped 72 percent in 2020.

Art institutions worldwide continue to feel the pandemic’s impact, having been forced to shutter indefinitely, reduce visitor capacity, and resort to other measures such as timed entry to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. A new report suggests that the Louvre, one of the world’s most highly trafficked museums, has experienced a staggering 72 percent decline in attendance. Capacity reductions and a steep decline in international visitors led to the Louvre bringing in 2.7 million visitors in 2020 compared to 9.6 million the year prior. The museum had already predicted major attendance drops after a temporary closure was initiated in March. Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre’s director, estimated that the museum would experience at least a 70 percent shortfall in attendance compared to other years, and doesn’t expect attendance will return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.  

Makoto Azuma's "Paludarium Tachiko" machine

Today’s attractive distractions:

We won’t see Apple’s self-driving electric car for another half-decade

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