The Metropolitan Museum of Art, so far a bellwether for New York museums grappling with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, has deferred its target reopening date from 1 July until mid-August or “perhaps a few weeks later”.
The museum says that its postponed opening is being planned in tandem with New York State’s cautious phased plan for reopening the city as coronavirus cases retreat.
The Met led the way for many art institutions by shutting down in response to the growing Covid-19 contagion in New York City on 12 March. The museum, which later proposed a 1 July reopening date, has since said that it expects a budget shortfall of as much as $150m for the current and the next fiscal year because of a loss of revenue from admissions, retail operations, event rentals and other income sources, and it has laid off 81 staff members.
When it reopens, the museum says in a statement, the days and hours in which visitors will be welcomed are likely to be reduced, “given the need to provide an environment that respects social distance requirements”. Museums across the globe that have reopened since the coronavirus crisis hit have adopted precautions like keeping six feet of space between visitors, requiring them to wear masks and in some cases performing temperature checks to ensure that museumgoers are not ill and contagious.
All tours, talks, concerts and other events at the Met have been cancelled through the end of the year, the museum says.
The Met also reports that its Costume Institute benefit, the Met Gala, which was originally scheduled for 4 May but then was indefinitely postponed, will not take place this year. The Costume Institute exhibition that was to be a theme of the gala, About Time: Fashion and Duration, will nonetheless open on 29 October, the museum says.
“The Met has endured much in its 150 years, and today continues as a beacon of hope for the future,” Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive, says in a statement. “This museum is also a profound reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the power of art to offer comfort, inspiration, and community. As we endure these challenging and uncertain times, we are encouraged by looking forward to the day when we can once again welcome all to enjoy the Met's collection and exhibitions.”