After almost six months of silence in the greatest museums of New York, the cultural life of the Big Apple begins to resurrect with the reopening this week of some of the most important institutions in the world, which have implemented important security measures and drastically reduced the number of visitors allowed.
One of them is the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), which on Thursday opened its doors to the public with only a handful of people being able to stroll through the spacious arrival hall of the luxurious building.
For starters, the MoMA can only receive 100 people every hour, and the assignment of visiting hours indicated on the tickets guarantees that people do not flock at the entrance, while a deployment of the latest technology makes it possible for there to be no physical contact during the security search.
“A lot of thought and planning has went into how to welcome visitors back to the museum as safely as possible and also as warmly as possible,” said Sonya Shrier, director of the Visitor Contact Department
“All visitors will get their temperature checked when they enter, we have the touch less temperature technology, there is a security bag check, also touch less,” Shrier said.
Of course, visitors to the MoMA have to wear a mask at all hours and respect the safety distance, as does anyone who wants to go see the extensive galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of New York (Met), which will begin to welcome the general public on Saturday, but on Thursday has begun to admit anyone who pays a membership.
Both museums have signs in their corridors to keep two meters of distance, the limited capacity of the bathrooms and the elevators, the stairs that can only be used in one direction and signs on the floor that indicate where to go.
Meanwhile the hand sanitizer dispensers remind you of the need to keep your hands clean.
Despite the enormous change that museums have had to adapt to, visitors stroll in front of the Van Goghs and Picassos at MoMA and the Egyptian sculptures at the Met with total normality, already accustomed to the constant presence of the mask and the need to stay away from each other.
“I have not felt uncomfortable at any time. And of course, I prefer to wear a mask and at least be able to come and see these wonderful works of art,” Rita DeCassia, a Brazilian based in New York, told EFE in one of the new exhibitions at the MoMA.
“Going back to museums gives us hope. The fact that they open their doors makes us think that everything may return to normal at some point,” she said.
A feeling of hope, precisely, is what MoMA wanted to awaken with one of the new pieces that it has installed at the entrance of the museum, which can be seen from the street. It is a huge “I Love NY” sign, the iconic logo featuring a large red heart that is embodied in mugs, key rings, and any souvenir from the Big Apple.
The image, in fact, was designed by Milton Glaser in 1975 during several crises that occurred that year, and that for almost half a century has been a symbol of hope and undying love for the city of skyscrapers.
“It has always been an important symbol of hope, resilience and strength for New Yorkers, and we couldn’t think of a better piece to welcome returning visitors to MoMA,” said Shrier.
Despite the enormous surfaces that these two institutions cover – the Met’s more than 185,000 square meters and the MoMA about 58,000 square meters – one of the measures that will most affect the already fragile financial situation of these museums is the small number of visitors they will be able to receive.
“I think the biggest thing that will control that situation is capacity constraint. So we used to have 15,000 persons a day, and now we have a 100 visitors per hour,” said the MoMA representative, which means that, taking into account that the museum will open for less than eight hours each day, they will receive a maximum of 800 visitors a day.
“There will be many, many fewer people in the galleries, and that means this is an excellent time to visit the museum,” Shrier said.
However, it also means that the museum’s revenue, which was closed for four months just last year to undergo a renovation process that cost 450 million dollars, will also drop dramatically.
The Met, which until its closure in March had been receiving some 20,000 people a day, has also had to reduce its occupancy to 25 percent, as set by the regulations imposed by the state of New York.
With the coronavirus pandemic, the MoMA has announced a budget cut of 45 million dollars, while the Met reported in its opening virtual press conference that they forecast losses of 150 million dollars.
Text courtesy of EFE-EPA