With COVID infection rates and deaths in New York State remaining relatively low, the city proper has slowly been reopening for business, with a notable exception for cultural institutions. Now, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, museums and similar institutions can reopen—with social distancing protocols, temperature checks, and staggered occupancy—starting today.
That doesn’t mean that everything will reopen today, however. Many affected institutions will reopen either next week or next month. Here’s a list of the architecture, design, and art museums to check out if you’re brave enough and in New York.
Fotografiska New York, the photography hub that recently opened in an 1894 faux-gothic building restored by CetraRuddy at 281 Park Avenue South, will reopen to the public on August 28. Operating at 25 percent capacity, the museum will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for deep cleaning and private tours. Additionally, all entrants must wear masks, remain six feet apart from each other, and take a temperature check before entering. Once inside, visitors can check out four solo exhibitions as well as an ongoing group show, New Visions, that was cocurated by the VICE Media Group.
As previously reported, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will reopen on August 29 with similar health and safety precautions in place, including a 25 percent occupancy maximum. The museum will have longer hours, however. While the Met Breuer is, unfortunately, permanently done for, the uptown Met Cloisters will reopen on September 12.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), like the Met, has been closed since March 13 but has announced that it will reopen on August 27, albeit with greatly reduced staff and the aforementioned preventative health measures. To entice visitors back, admission will be free until September 27. The fate of the MoMA’s Queens offshoot, the more experimental PS1, will reopen on September 17.
The Noguchi Museum in Astoria, Queens, which houses the collection and celebrates the legacy of Japanese-American sculptor and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, will reopen on September 23. Members can reserve advanced access beginning September 9, however. If you’re in the area, the nearby Socrates Sculpture Park has remained an outdoor respite for New Yorkers all summer and is worth checking out as well.
Bowery stalwart the New Museum will reopen on September 15 with health and safety guidelines. Admission will be free until September 27, and visitors can catch retrospectives of painters Peter Saul and Jordan Casteel; both shows went up in February, allotting scant time to view them before the museum’s March closure.
The Whitney will reopen on September 3, although members can visit from August 27 through 31 ahead of the “crowds” (the museum will also be running at 25 percent capacity). A “pay what you wish” policy will be in place until September 28, and guests should check out the Order and Ornament show, a retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein’s survey of the “the architectural facades and ornamental motifs he encountered around Wall Street and elsewhere in Lower Manhattan.”
The Guggenheim will open a bit later than its listed peers, likely owing to the narrow circulation spiral at the heart of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. Now, with single-direction circulation in place, the museum will reopen on October 3, Thursdays through Mondays, from 11:00 AM through 6:00 PM (at 25 percent capacity, of course).
Don’t see your favorite museum on the list? This is far from a comprehensive survey, but each institution will have its own reopening date; it’s better to check directly. However, despite the varying dates, all such cultural destinations will be required to follow roughly the same safety precautions. As the New York Times noted, a museum task force laid out the now-codified requirements in April. Don’t expect to come back to the museums you knew and loved in the “before times,” as furniture and partitions will likely be rearranged to make social distancing more conducive.