NYC Culture: Museum Reopening Dates and More IRL Activities

With the state infection rate below 1% for more than 12 days in a row, the Governor has cleared the way for indoor culture to return. Starting next Monday, museums can reopen with safety and cleaning protocols in place, although admission will be limited to 25% of capacity. We’ve got a rundown of what’s opening when as well as other cultural outlets providing “in real life” opportunities.

Photo by Kay Hickman.

Museums. The new normal will involve face coverings, reduced hours, and limited capacities. You’ll need a timed ticket for entry to most places. The New-York Historical Society is reopening in phases, with an open-air exhibition already up and running. Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine features documentation of the experiences of New Yorkers across the five boroughs during the height of the pandemic. For a pick-me-up, take advantage of outdoor seating at the on-site café Parliament Espresso & Coffee Bar, which has also reopened. September 11th is the target date for reopening indoors.

Illustration by Nicolas Ménard.

The newly remodeled Museum of Modern Art will reopen to the public on Thursday, August 27th, with free timed tickets for one month thanks to UNIQLO. Fotografiska New York returns on Friday, August 28th; exhibitions will include four solo exhibitions by Martin SchoellerCooper & GorferNaima Green, and Julie Blackmon and a group show of emerging talent, New Visions, co-curated with VICE Media Group. The spy experience SPYSCAPE is back Friday, August 28th with a new touchless approach to its interactive elements. The American Folk Art Museum returns Friday, August 28th with the exhibitions American Perspectives and Six Decades Collecting Self-Taught ArtThe Museum of Illusions is back on Monday, August 24th and you can visit the Museum of the Dog again come Tuesday, August 25th.

Cultural Revolution Glows by Yang Jiabao & Cai Sheng, 1972.
Cultural Revolution Glows by Yang Jiabao & Cai Sheng, 1972.

Poster House reopens to the public next week, with the first opportunity for the general public to visit coming on Thursday, September 3rd. Also on Thursday, September 3rd you can get back into the Whitney; exhibitions that were on view when the city went on pause in March will be available, including Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 and Cauleen Smith: Mutualities, which explores experimental works reflecting on memory and Afro-diasporic histories. Admission will be Pay-What-You-Wish through September 28th. The New Museum returns on Tuesday, September 15th. Current exhibitions “Peter Saul: Crime and Punishment,” “Jordan Casteel: Within Reach,” and “Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself,” will remain on view through the end of 2020. Admission will be free to all visitors through Sunday September 27. The Morgan returns on Saturday, September 5th—that whole weekend will be free. Opening hours will be Wednesday through Sunday 10:30am-5pm, “Free Fridays” picking up from 3- 5pm every Friday afternoon.

Yoyo Rodriguez, Untitled, 1971, Taller Boricua Puerto Rican Workshop.

Starting Saturday, September 12, you can again experience El Museo del Barrio, which will limit its open hours to weekends from noon to 5pm. A new exhibition will greet visitors: “Taller Boricua: A Political Print Shop in New York,” the first monograph show in three decades dedicated to the East Harlem-based Nuyorican collective workshop. Also starting Saturday, September 12 the National September 11th Memorial & Museum will reopen its indoor gallery spaces. The outdoor memorial is already open. On Wednesday, September 9th the American Museum of Natural History comes back; open days will be Wednesday-Sunday and the planetarium will remain closed.

Photo by Milo Hess.

The Museum of the City of New York has a reopening date of Thursday, August 27th. In addition, the museum has unveiled the first phase of an outdoor installation sharing NYC’s stories of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the uprising against police violence. (The installation will serve as a starting point for a new exhibition later this year.)

Maurizio Cattelan, Untitled, 2020

The Drawing Center will reopen to the public by appointment only on Wednesday, October 7th, with the exhibition 100 Drawings from Now, which showcases an international group of artists working in the never-ending year of 2020. The Brooklyn Museum reopens on Saturday, September 12th. The Studio 54: Night Magic exhibition has been extended through November 8th. New digital art showcase ARTECHOUSE in Chelsea Market is back as of Thursday, September 3rd. The Met Museum is reopening on Saturday, August 29th. Alas, all tours, talks, concerts, events, and the Met Gala are canceled for 2020. The Costume Institute’s About Time: Fashion and Duration exhibition is scheduled to open on October 29th. The Cloisters is scheduled to open September 12th; the Met Breuer is closed for good. That building will be taken over by The Frick Collection as Frick Madison, opening as a temporary exhibition space in early 2021. The move is necessitated by renovations at the Frick’s home—the first major fix up in 85 years. The Guggenheim has announced its return, although it’s a little ways off, coming on Saturday, October 3rd.

Zoos and Gardens. The Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Bronx Zoo are all back, with the New York Aquarium returning on Monday, August 24th. The New York Botanical Garden sprawls across 250 acres, helping facilitate social distancing. Public access to the garden returned on Tuesday, July 28th, with only outdoor spaces open. Reserve a timed ticket in advance. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is reopen as of Friday, August 7th. Four special Welcome Weeks will start things off and feature free admission.

Governors Island has opened back up again, accessible from 10am-6pm on the weekdays and extended to 7pm on the weekends. Manhattan ferries run daily from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South St. There will be Brooklyn access as well, leaving from Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, although they’ll be available on the weekends only. (A third way of travel will be a dedicated weekend shuttle from Wall Street/Pier 11 that will run roughly every 30 minutes beginning July 18, The High Line is back as well, via free timed-entry tickets. Reservations are opened every two weeks on Mondays, for the subsequent two weeks. A limited number of walk-up passes will also be available at the entrance, but advance planning is recommended. Traffic will only flow in one direction, starting at Gansevoort Street. The 28 acres of gardens and woodland at Wave Hill were established on the grounds of an 1843 Bronx estate to serve as a respite and a showcase for horticulture. It reopened to the public on Thursday, July 30th, with initial hours Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5:30pm. You can reserve online for the following Thursday-Sunday opening every Monday. The visitor parking lot will not be open and shuttle service is temporarily suspended due to social distancing requirements.

Storm King is open as well, although visits are restricted to the outdoor parts of the grounds. Timed entry is required, with the window for arrival between 10am and 3pm. Tickets are released in two-week blocks.

Attractions. The Empire State Building is the first of the city’s observation decks to come back. It’s open now and welcoming visitors at 20% capacity—a nice opportunity to enjoy the views without the crowds. Top of the Rock reopened to the pubic on Thursday, August 6th. New hours for the Observation Deck are daily 1-9pm; note that kids 12 and under will get in free with the purchase of an adult ticket through Labor Day.

Boat Rides. AIA New York | Center for Architecture is resuming its architectural boat tours. A minimum three-guest booking is required. Among tantalizing upcoming topics are AIANY Around Manhattan: Bridges, Infrastructure, and the Evolving City and AIANY Around Manhattan: Historic Architecture Tour; all are offered on multiple dates. Liberty Island is back open now and Statue Cruises is once again plying New York Harbor, although the interior of the statue, the museum, and Ellis Island all remain closed. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises is taking kids on a free ride on the legendary 90-minute “Landmarks” cruise: be a tourist in your own town and take advantage of discount code KIDSFREE20 at checkout.

Jonathan Blanc/NYPL.

Walking Tours. With limited capacity, walking tours are back on, and the Guides Association of New York is making a big effort to ensure safety. Untapped Cities is doing the same and expanding their outdoor offerings, which are available now. Among your options: Victorian Flatbush, Gowanus Canal Sunset Canoe, The Remnants of the World’s Fairs, and the Hidden Gems of Coney Island. The Tenement Museum’s reopening is on hold, but their next move is to re-start neighborhood walking tours. They’ll be offering a limited number of private Lower East Side walking tours to single household groups (8 people max) on Saturdays starting mid-September. For social distancing with a social mission, join up with Inside Out Tours, which show off the diversity of the city with outings like the NYC Slavery & Underground Railroad Walking Tour.

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