Governor Cuomo Gives New York City Museums the Green Light to Reopen in Late August—But With Stringent Restrictions

The Whitney also announced that it would be pay-what-you-wish through September.

Fans wait in line for at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Fans wait in line for at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

After months of lockdown that have resulted in severe cutbacks, museums in New York can plan to reopen once more according to a statement today by governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Low-risk cultural activities, museums, aquariums, [and] other low risk cultural arts can reopen in New York City Aug. 24 so they can get their protocols in place,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters, according to CNBC.

Operations will be far from normal: strict social distancing measures, such as operating at 25 percent capacity, will be enforced. In his Tweet about the reopening, Cuomo also mandated timed ticketing and “pre-set staggered entry.”

Still, the news was a relief for beleaguered institutions.

“I’m walking on air! We’ve been waiting for weeks with bated breath,” Whitney Museum director Adam Weinberg told the New York Times, following the news.

In a statement to Artnet News, the Whitney gave a picture of its post-lockdown procedures: “The Museum also announced that pay-what-you-wish admission will be offered to all through September 28, 2020. Due to limited capacity and to facilitate contactless entry into the Museum, all visitors and members will need to reserve timed-entry tickets in advance on whitney.org.”

Museum directors and staffers were caught off guard last month when Cuomo announced that museums would not be allowed to open as part of part of the Phase 4 comeback that started July 20. Now, with New York state seeing less than one percent of all coronavirus tests come back positive for seven consecutive days, lockdown is finally being eased.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art had previously announced a reopening date of August 29, though it said it was awaiting further instruction from state authorities.

Now other museums are rolling out their planned reopen dates. The Whitney plans to open on September 3. Members will get earlier access, starting August 27 and continuing through August 31, according to the Times.

Meanwhile the Museum of the City of New York is planning to open August 27. The American Museum of Natural History had already announced a September 2 opening for members, followed by a September 9 opening for the general public.

In addition to timed ticketing and limited occupancy rules, temperature checks and face masks will also be mandated by the state.


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