NYC museums reopening: Everything you need to know

Culture vultures, rejoice!

Gov. Andrew Cuomo decreed that NYC’s museums and cultural institutions could reopen at 25 percent capacity starting Aug. 24, reversing the mandated months-long hiatus of the city’s beloved institutions since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March. Gyms and bowling alleys are also allowed to reopen with safety precautions, and movie theaters are expected to return next.

Still, it won’t be a free-for-all in the galleries’ great halls once they’re open to the public. The city’s top collections are all instituting careful regulations for safe, socially distanced visits, including mandatory mask policies and staggered entrance times (which, in most cases, must be reserved in advance online).

Given the restrictions, it’s important to plan ahead instead of showing up spur-of-the-moment at MoMA or the Whitney, which will be offering wallet-friendly pay-what-you-wish programs until late September. Also, per the new rules of gallery-hopping, there won’t be any food served, so eat before or after your artsy jaunt. Coat checks are still a no-go, so be warned that lugging a big backpack to a museum might get you turned away. In other words: travel light.

Here are five of the city’s storied venues and their reopening plans, as well as the most anticipated exhibits coming to — or, in some cases, extending their stay in — town. Read on for how to make sure you get in.

Museum of Modern Art

Reopening date: Aug. 27

Visitors wear masks and observe social-distancing rules at the MoMA.

Matthew McDermott

Suzanne Neufang, 57, spent her birthday at the Museum of Modern Art reopening on Thursday.

Matthew McDermott

MoMA visitors stream in Thursday.

Matthew McDermott

Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver has a 360-degree film installation at MoMA.


Set your alarm for 10 a.m. each Friday, because that’s when tickets open up to the public for all of MoMA’s time slots for the following week. Museum members get a pass: They have the museum to themselves on Fridays, and they don’t need to reserve tickets. A new offering for one-off visitors and members alike is “Cinematic Illusion,” a 360-degree film installation by Japanese artist Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver. It was originally exhibited in 1969 at Killer Joe’s, a club in Tokyo. Standing in the room with the movie’s frames flickering around you just might be the closest you can get to a night out.

“I feel a sense of freedom that I am getting to do things that I like to do again,” said Jason Barschi, 28, who visited the MoMA the day it reopened. “It’s refreshing to see some sort of normalcy coming back,” Barschi, a hotel industry worker who bought $70 worth of hanging art and other items at the gift shop, told The Post.

Pay-what-you-wish through Sept. 27 for the public, and free for members (memberships starts at $65 per year), check for hours and more info. 11 W. 53rd St.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Reopening date: Aug. 27 for members, Aug. 29 to the public

A family checks out the Arms and Armor department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

A museum employee checks visitors’ temperatures at the Met on Thursday.

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

A masked security guard monitors attendance at the museum.


Exterior view of the Met.

Tamara Beckwith/NY Post

What better way to celebrate the Met’s reopening than a deep dive into its 150-year history? In “Making the Met: 1870-2020,” priceless paintings, like Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein, or the gold-and-emerald “Crown of the Andes,” which boasts over 400 of the precious green gemstones, are on view, along with a history of how the museum acquired, restored and maintained the objects.

“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for — we’re ready when you are!” museum director Max Hollein said in a statement.

Free for members (plans start at $110 per year) and pay-what-you-wish for NY NJ residents. $25 general admission tickets are available online; members, New York State residents and local students can reserve a time slot online. 1000 Fifth Ave.

Whitney Museum of American Art

Reopening date: Aug. 27 for members, Sept. 3 to the public

The Whitney Museum of American Art’s “Vida Americana” exhibit includes work by Frida Kahlo.© 2020 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Ed Lederman

“When we closed in March, ‘Vida Americana‘ was turning out to be one of the Whitney’s most popular and thought-provoking exhibitions ever,” said Scott Rothkopf, a senior curator at the Whitney.

The show, subtitled “Mexican Muralists Remake American Art,” features heavyweights like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and has been extended through January. For the next month, it can be seen at a steep discount — the Whitney is offering a sliding scale for admission to encourage visitors, instead of its usual $22 price tag. Rothkopf added that the works can double as a pre-election primer: “The show features gorgeous paintings but also relevant political themes.”

Pay-what-you-wish, starting at $1, through Sept. 28 and free for members (memberships start at $90 per year). Reserve a time at 99 Gansevoort St.

The American Museum of Natural History

Reopening date: Sept. 2 for members, Sept. 9 for the public

The eye-popping “The Nature of Color” exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.© R. Mickens

Go online to reserve a timed-entry slot between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets might be in short supply, since the museum will only be open from Wednesday to Sunday, closing at 5:30. If you go, see “The Nature of Color.” The special exhibit, a delightful interactive experience that opened before COVID-19 hit the city but was forced to close, has been extended. It “explores the role and power of color in nature, in human cultures and in ourselves,” a museum rep said. Learn how and why camouflaging amphibians change color to survive, or why traffic lights use red, green and yellow.

Free for members ($115 per year for one adult), or $28 general admission ticket for one adult that also offers access to the special exhibit. Pay-what-you-wish for NY, NJ and CT residents. Learn more and buy advance tickets at, 200 Central Park West.

The Brooklyn Museum

Reopening date: Sept. 12

“Studio 54: Night Magic” kicks off the Brooklyn Museum reopening on Sept. 12.Jonathan Dorado

The Brooklyn Museum shut its doors the day the highly anticipated exhibit “Studio 54: Night Magic” was set to open, but the party is back on. “Studio 54 offered New Yorkers an environment for uninhibited celebration in the late 1970s,” Matthew Yokobosky, a senior fashion curator at the museum, told The Post. “I feel that people are once again looking for opportunities to celebrate as we re-emerge from quarantine.”

Museum entry will be spaced out in 15-minute increments to avoid crowding at the entrance and inside. And while it’s recommended to purchase tickets ahead of time online, there will be limited day-of tickets available on-site, too.

Free for members ($75 per year) or $16 per adult for the day. Reserve a ticket through 200 Eastern Parkway.

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