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Your guide to enjoying a New York City museum in the middle of a pandemic.

Corinne Segal

September 15, 2020, 1:51pm

List-making: it used to be so simple. Now, just noting that a number of museums are opening to visitors in New York City—where they’ve been closed since the coronavirus shut down the entire world—requires some explanation and a light understanding of public health.

In August, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced museums could re-open beginning at the end of the month, he also set some limits: they would be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity and under a reserved-ticket system to reduce the risks of overcrowding. Now, those changes are in effect, and a list, it seems, is in order. (My apologies to the rest of the country, which has to suffer through a lot of East Coast-centric media on a daily basis, for excluding their cultural institutions, but New York’s relatively high density of museums made it the obvious place to start.)

A few notes: museums’ updated visitor guidelines generally remind everyone to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and to not count on having a coat check. A number of them also emphasized that visitors from many other states are still technically required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York.

So, fellow New Yorkers, or non-New Yorkers emerging from that quarantine: here’s where you can visit, either now or as the fading season drags us deep into a midwinter desperation for stimuli.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Hours: Saturday–Monday, 10am–5pm; Thursday–Friday, 12pm–7pm
How to go: You can buy timed tickets online at full price ($25 for adults, $12 for students), or, for those who live in New York and New Jersey, reserve a timed “pay-what-you-wish” ticket.
Also: Weekend tickets for the “pay-what-you-wish” tickets fill up fast, so book early if possible.

The Met Cloisters

Hours: Thursday–Monday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
How to go: Same as the Metropolitan Museum of Art: you can buy timed tickets online at full price ($25 for adults, $12 for students), or, for those who live in New York and New Jersey, reserve a timed “pay-what-you-wish” ticket.

The Museum of Modern Art

Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10:30am–5:30pm; Monday, 10:30am–5:30pm (for members only)
How to go: Book your timed ticket online ($25 for adults, $14 for students), and check the website every Friday at 10 am for the release of next week’s tickets.
Also: There are currently no tickets available before Sept. 29.

MoMA PS1

Hours: Thursday–Monday, 12pm–6pm
How to go: Book your timed ticket online (free for NYC residents; others have the choice of full admission or a “pay-what-you-wish” ticket).

The Whitney Museum

Hours: Monday, 11:30am–6pm; Thursday, 11:30am–6pm; Friday, 1:30pm–9pm; Saturday–Sunday, 1pm–6pm
How to go: Book your timed ticket online (they’re pay-what-you-wish through September 28).
Also: The Whitney is intense about COVID-19 safety measures: it has published extensive information about new protocols on its website, including the fact that visitors “will have body temperatures taken prior to entering the Museum via contactless thermal cameras.” And: “We may share your name and email address with a governmental health authority should that information be requested for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes.”

The American Museum of Natural History

Hours: 10 am–5:30 pm, Wednesday–Sunday
How to go: Book timed tickets online ($28 for adults, $22.50 for students). Residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut can pay what they wish.

The Museum of the City of New York

Hours: Thursday–Monday, 10am–6pm (10am–11am is for “seniors and other high-risk individuals”)
How to go: Book a timed ticket online ($20 for adults, $14 for students).

The American Folk Art Museum

Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 11:30am–6pm
How to go: Book a free timed ticket online.

The Bronx Museum

Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 1pm–6pm
How to go: Book a free timed ticket online.
Also: You must reserve a ticket at least 24 hours in advance. Also, “Bring your own water bottle as water fountains inside the Museum are off limits.” Stay hydrated!

Rubin Museum

Hours: Thursday–Monday, 11am–5pm; Friday, 11am–10pm
How to go: Reserve a timed ticket online ($19 for adults, $14 for students)
Also: Friday nights from 6–10pm are free, but you should still make a ticket reservation. The museum releases tickets two weeks in advance at 11am every day.

El Museo del Barrio

Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 12pm–5pm
How to go: Reserve a timed, “pay-what-you-wish” ticket online.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage

Hours: Wednesday–Thursday, 10am–5pm; Sunday, 10am–5pm
How to go: Purchase a timed ticket online ($16 for adults, $10 for students)
Also: The museum only admits 15 people every half hour.

The Morgan Library & Museum

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 10:30am-5 pm
How to go: Book a timed ticket online ($22 for adults, $13 for students).
Also: Only members can visit from 10:30am-11:30am on Wednesday and Saturday, and Friday from 3pm–5pm is free, but you definitely need a reservation.

New Museum

Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 11am–6pm
How to go: Book a timed ticket online.
Also: Admission is free through Sept. 27. Like the Whitney, the New Museum will take visitors’ temperature upon entry.

Brooklyn Museum

Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 11am–6pm
How to go: Book a timed ticket online ($16 for adults, $10 for students 20+, free for visitors under 19).

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Opening soon:

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Opening: Sept. 30 for members; Oct. 3 for non-members
Hours: Thursday–Monday, 11am–6pm
How to go: Reserve a timed ticket online ($25 for adults, $18 for students)
Also: A few evenings will be pay-what-you-wish from 4–6pm, for which the museum will release specifics later this month. Also, this is nice: “Through November 1, 2020, the Guggenheim will match every full-priced ticket with a free family pass for an essential worker.”

Noguchi Museum

Opening: Sept. 9 for members; Sept. 23 for non-members
Hours: Wednesday–Friday, 10 am–1 pm, 2–5 pm; Saturday–Sunday, 11 am–2 pm, 3–6 pm
How to go: Book a timed ticket online ($10 for adults, $5 for students).
Also: The museum will close in the middle of the day for cleaning before re-opening again in the afternoon.

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