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The Whitney Museum of American Art.

New York Art Institutions Allowed to Open August 24

New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that the city’s major art institutions are allowed to open on August 24, subject to restrictions. Among these are operation at 25 percent capacity, timed ticketing, and mandatory face coverings.

The news was greeted with relief across the board. The city’s museums, which have seen layoffs pile up and funds drain away since March 20, when the governor mandated a shutdown of nonessential businesses, had hoped to fling wide their doors on July 20, when the city entered Phase 4 of its reopening. Cuomo brought the hammer down on that idea, however, citing fears of indoor transmission triggering a spike in Covid-19.

Now, New York State has seen its seventh day with less than 1 percent of all coronavirus tests returning positive, and its first day with 100 percent of museum administrators metaphorically throwing their caps in the air. “I’m walking on air!” cheered Adam Weinberg, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

While the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which just last week laid off or furloughed some 300 employees in the face of an expected $100 million shortfall in revenue, had been scheduled to reopen on August 29, most other major institutions had not yet announced reopening plans.

Following the governor’s announcement, the Museum of the City of New York said it would reopen August 27; the Whitney plans to begin previews that day, opening to the general public September 3. Set to open on September 9 are the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Jewish Heritage. No word yet from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the New Museum, or the Museum of Modern Art, which just months prior to the shutdown had completed a $450 million redesign and expansion.

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