Empty Museums: As Priceless as the Art


Harper Prentice '22

Harper Prentice ’22 visits The Metropolitan Museum of Art with her friends, Thomas Bakos ’22 and Genevive Morange ’22. “Besides wearing masks, undergoing temperature checks before entering, and following strict social-distancing measures, I would say that visiting The Met was very similar to pre-pandemic – which is extremely comforting in my opinion,” Prentice said.

2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, which remains a staple in the city’s rich cultural and artistic scene to this day. However, 2020 also marks another milestone for The Met: an almost six-month closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Previous to the pandemic, the museum had not closed for more than three consecutive days in over a century. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art are among the various New York City museums opening for the first time since their monumental temporary closures due to COVID-19 in March 2020. 

Amelia Volpe ’21 is an avid museumgoer who is among the New Yorkers finally taking the opportunity to revisit the museums that they have missed so much for the first time since the Spring. 

“They all were all much emptier than before the pandemic,” said Volpe. “All the museums that I’ve visited since have really gone out of their way to protect their visitors and staff; I had to get timed tickets in advance for all of them, have my temperature taken when I got there, and gave them my contact information for contact tracing.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is maintaining limited capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic, making the museum seem a lot less crowded than usual. (Amelia Volpe ’21)

Precautions have been strict for all museums that are part of the stage four re-openings in New York City. Such measures include mandatory face coverings for all workers and visitors, temperature checks upon arrival, and six feet apart social distancing requirements. Museum capacity has also been limited to ensure the health and safety of all, letting visitors have the unique opportunity to view exhibits without large crowds.   

If you have ever wanted to see your favorite pieces of art without large numbers of tourists or other visitors blocking your view, now might be the best time to go visit a New York City museum.   

“My experience at The Met since its reopening was incredible and left me feeling hopeful. Visiting a museum reminded me of life before the pandemic, and provides a sense of normalcy to all visitors in the museum,” said Harper Prentice ’20. “When looking at the art you are able to forget about how much our lives have changed in the past few months and instead immerse yourself in the inspirational and thought-provoking art pieces in the museum.”

The Whitney is another museum opening up for the first time since the Spring, with many precautions in place for visitors. “Security measures are really good; they all took temperatures, and required reservations beforehand,” said Amelia Volpe ’21. (Amelia Volpe ’21)

The re-openings come as a result of a decrease in the number of coronavirus cases since the peak in New York City in early April 2020 (although cases are now rising in New York City again). For the time being, this gives New Yorkers a chance to visit their favorite museums in a unique and safe way, perhaps even giving visitors a more up-close and personal look at the art than they have ever had before. 

Amelia Volpe ’21 takes up-close photos at the MoMA on her first visit since the Coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020. (Amelia Volpe ’21)















“When looking at the art you are able to forget about how much our lives have changed in the past few months and instead immerse yourself in the inspirational and thought-provoking art pieces in the museum,” said Harper Prentice ’20.