By the time February rolled into March this year, curator Keishi Mitsui had been working on an exhibition of rare photographs for over two years. Nearly 200 prints, gathered through months of painstaking negotiations with museums and archives all over Japan, were finally in place in the third-floor gallery of the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (ToP).

But just as the doors were ready to open, the threat of the novel coronavirus led the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to close museums and other cultural institutions. For 82 days, the halls of ToP stayed dark, the works went unseen. Before the museum could reopen, Mitsui had to take everything down to make way for the next exhibition.

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