Living in the time of COVID has presented challenges, especially for those of us who like to travel. Finding places to visit that allow for personal distancing is tough, especially as winter approaches, and being outdoors becomes more difficult. So let me offer an alternative: local museums.
Museums have been operating at a fraction of their capacity, but truthfully, with the lack of tourists, they are even emptier that I expected. And they can really use revenues generated by your visit. I recently had the chance to visit two major New York City Museums.
On an October Thursday morning, I visited the Museum of Modern Art. MOMA had just completed a major expansion, when the initial COVID shutdown hit in the spring. They have increased their exhibition space by more than 50%, and that, along with timed tickets and generally small crowds meant that I was often alone in the galleries. That’s right, I could stand in front of Starry Night without having to dodge two dozen selfie-takers. Throughout the museum I walked in wonderfully empty galleries as I enjoyed their permanent collection.
Near the end of October, I took advantage of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’s “Open Nights,” and visited two special exhibits I was very interested in. The Met had recently opened “Photography’s Last Century,” a retrospective of 100 years of work, taken from the Met’s permanent collections.
“The American Struggle” is a collection of work that Jacob Lawrence created early in his career. The 30 paintings present scenes of struggle from the founding days of the United States, but with Lawrence’s particular take of the struggle of poor people and people of color. This collection is rarely exhibited, as it has been split up among private collectors.
While the museum was mostly empty, this particular show did draw a small crowd. However the staff kept the number of people in the gallery to a reasonable number. That allowed people to enjoy the works and maintain personal distance.
So, if you are chomping at the bit to get out, and if the COVID numbers in your area allow for it, local museums are a great place to visit.