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Aug. 14, 2020, 3:59 p.m. EDT

NYC Museums, Shuttered for Five Months, Can Reopen Later This Month

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New York City museums, aquariums, and other indoor cultural institutions will be permitted to welcome patrons later this month for the first time since the coronavirus gripped the city, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Friday. 

Storied cultural venues will have to enforce mandatory face coverings, reduce capacity and heighten cleaning protocols per state guidelines in order to reopen on Monday, Aug. 24. Many of the world’s greatest treasures—from the 2,000-year-old Temple of Dendur and Vincent Van Gogh ’s Starry Night to Lucy , the famed early humanoid, and the USS Intrepid warship—have been locked away for five months. 

“When the Covid-19 pandemic began to threaten the city and this nation, it was especially heartbreaking to see them close their doors," Cuomo said in comments on Friday. 

Some museums were already anticipating a late August reopening, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had already announced it would open its doors on Aug. 29. It’s published a long list of new health and safety protocols that include suspending its coat check, installing hand sanitizer dispensers around the exhibits, and reducing its dining options to only light snacks and beverages.

The American Museum of Natural History, where “ Lucy ” and countless other fossils dating back millions of years are on display, said it will reopen for members and guests on Sept. 2 followed by a public reopening a week later. 

Ahead of reopening, institutions must set up a reservation system including  timed entry to limit attendance to 25% capacity, Cuomo said at his Friday briefing, in which he also announced bowling alleys could open statewide and teased a formal announcement on Monday about future gym openings. 

Museums originally were slated to reopen in mid-July, during Phase 4 of the city’s reopening, but the state postponed a broad swatch of indoor economic activity, including dining, theaters, and museums. Broadway has announced productions won’t head back to the stage until 2021.

As Cuomo noted on Friday: “This pandemic is far from over.”

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