Museums: The Slow Crawl Back Toward Normal

Whitney Museum of American Art

During March and April, New York City was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, however, New York and the surrounding area in the northeast are as close to having the virus under control as any part of the U.S. The reopening of the city has been gradual and controlled and at the end of August New York’s museums were allowed to open.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is my favorite of the New York museums so that was the first place I visited. The Whitney opened in early September and adopted a “pay what you wish” admission policy for the rest of the month. It implemented the usual protocols of limiting capacity and requiring timed tickets. My photos were taken during members only hours on a weekend morning, so the galleries may not always look as empty as they do here, but a substantial portion of Whitney customers aren’t around as there are no tourists coming to New York.

Whitney Museum of American Art

There are limited restrooms and limited elevator service. Patrons are encouraged to take the stairs, which are one way.

Whitney Museum of American Art

And, of course, face coverings are required.

Man with Serape and Sombrero
Man with Serape and Sombrero, Maradonio Magana.

No dining in the frighteningly expensive lobby level restaurant.

Whitney Museum restaurant

Nor can you get a cup of coffee in the upstairs cafe.

Whitney Museum cafe

Some of the exhibits are holdovers from earlier in the year, like the excellent Vida Americana exhibit which features 20th century Mexican muralists and the American artists who were influenced by them.

Electric Power, Diego Rivera
Electric Power, Diego Rivera
Untitled Jackson Pollock
Did you know Jackson Pollock created paintings that looked like this untitled piece? The exhibit explores how Pollock was influenced by Jose Clemente Orozco.

There were a couple new exhibits as well like Around Day’s End: Downtown New York, 1970-1986

Street Woman on Car, Anton Dalon
Street Woman on Car, Anton van Dalen

Not quite normal. You might end up huffing and puffing walking up to the 8th floor with a mask on. And you might have to search a bit to find an open restroom. But, all in all, it was great to be back.

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4 Responses to Museums: The Slow Crawl Back Toward Normal

  1. Donna Janke says:

    In my home province of May, museums were allowed to re-open (with distancing and other restrictions) in May. The Winnipeg Art Gallery was one of the first to re-open. It took others some time (up to a couple of months) to figure out how to meet the requirements and still offer a meaningful experience, particularly where interactive touch displays (no longer allowed) played an important role. Most require timed advance tickets. The only museum I’ve visited since the pandemic was a heritage village style museum, which required relatively few changes because of COVID. I hope to visit a couple of others in the next couple of months to see how they’ve adapted and how the experience has changed.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pam Lazos says:

    Pollock before he was a paint slinger!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting to hear what museums in other countries are doing, now that I’ve been to quite a few museums in the Covid era here! Fortunately, most of the toilets are open here now, and they seem to be really on the ball with cleaning them, and some cafes are open as well, which is a bit odd since you have to leave your mask on to order, but then de-mask to eat and drink. I’ve only been to ones where you can sit outdoors well away from other people, which seem the best option at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ken Dowell says:

      I haven’t been to any outdoor museums which I would assume to be a bit more opened up. In general its going to be hard when the weather gets cold. There are a lot of things that I feel relatively safe doing outside, but not so much indoors.

      Liked by 1 person

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