New York City Museums in 2021

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Photo by Alex Palmer on Unsplash
Photo by Alex Palmer on Unsplash

New York City museums have begun to open

The Metropolitan of New York City art museums celebrates its 150th anniversary year with the “Making the Met: 1870-2020” exhibit. This “greatest hits” exhibit is like viewing the museum as a snapshot. If you’re still a little skittish about being indoors with others, this is a great way to test the waters. The exhibit limits capacity at all times, and you can head directly up the grand staircase towards the exhibit and likely not encounter anyone else en route(Insider’s Tip: become a Met member and you have special access through the ground level door and up via a direct elevator. It’s worth the price – I was in and at the exhibit in less than five minutes.) 

At Whitney Museum, timed entry is tightly controlled here, and you will get a temperature check before you enter. The best way to view this museum and avoid the crowds is to start at the top floor and work your way down. Take advantage of the outdoor patios on each floor and use the open-air steps connecting them. On each floor, the galleries are relatively empty except for what’s currently “on” like the über-popular Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art Mexican. Don’t miss the first-floor exhibit, hidden on the east side of the building. It changes frequently but is always thought-provoking. No one seems to know this gallery is there, so you’re pretty much guaranteed uncrowded viewing and contemplation. Note that The Whitney books up its limited time slots very quickly.

Guggenheim’s Countryside: The Future show was sadly postponed by the pandemic, and part of the outdoor portion was removed. The exhibit is still solid, though, and the museum capacity is limited by time. The museum makes it easy for you to know how to view safely. You can only head in one direction, and arrows indicate how to enter and exit a gallery. The arrows are also placed on staircases for exiting the museum after ascending the spiral. Should you not want to walk the stairs, the elevators are closely monitored. Another plus: many of the restrooms are single-person only.

Moma plan for both indoor and outdoor art time at MOMA with their smart timed entry system. The museum adds an extra layer of safety, as you must have a temperature scan before you can enter. The spacious galleries don’t feel crowded and there’s plenty to keep you busy and away from others as you explore. Permanent collections mix with feature exhibits like the re-opening Handles by Haegue Yang, a full-scale riot of color and shape. Escalators connect the floors, so it’s easy to stay socially distanced as you travel around. For efficient navigation, start on the top floor and work your way down. Once on the ground floor, I suggest heading to the sub-gallery for the current installation. I’m convinced no one knows this part of the museum exists. Then, take the escalator up to the outdoor sculpture garden where scattered seating will allow you to chill and safely appreciate the return of museums in Manhattan.

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