The Metropolitan Museum of Art plans to open its doors on Aug. 29, after more than five months of pandemic shutdown, a museum spokesman said.
If everything goes smoothly with New York’s phased reopening, museums would be allowed to open on July 20 — in the fourth and final phase of the plan. The Met has set its date for about a month after that, with some staff members returning to work a few weeks earlier to prepare, the spokesman said.
“The safety of our staff and visitors remains our greatest concern,” said Daniel H. Weiss, the museum president, in a statement.
“We are eagerly awaiting our reopening as, perhaps now more than ever, the Museum can serve as a reminder of the power of the human spirit and the capacity of art to bring comfort, inspire resilience, and help us better understand each other and the world around us,” he said.
The Met Cloisters in Washington Heights is expected to open shortly after the main museum, but no formal date has been set. The Met Breuer will not be reopening at all: There were already plans in place for the Met to hand over the space — which belongs to the Whitney Museum of American Art — to the Frick Collection in July. The Met’s final show there was “Gerhard Richter: Painting After All,” which was up for only about nine days in March. The museum had tried to find a way to reopen, the spokesman said, but the logistics ultimately did not work out.
The New-York Historical Society is planning to open an outdoor exhibition, called “Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” on Aug. 14 and to open fully after Labor Day, on Sept. 11.
Like many museums, the Met has been under financial strain since it shut its doors on March 13. In April, the museum announced that it was laying off more than 80 people.
When it comes to plans for reopening, there is a divide among museums and performing arts organizations. While many theaters, dance companies and orchestras have resigned themselves to a 2021 reopening, museums tend to be more comfortable opening sooner because it is easier to socially distance with timed ticketing and security guards monitoring the spread of visitors — compared with tightly packed Broadway theaters and concert halls.