Museums in Queens not ready to reopen 1

The Queens Museum is one of several major cultural institutions in the borough that cannot yet say when they will reopen, despite Gov. Cuomo’s giving them the green light to do so on Aug. 24, with limited capacity and other requirements.

Museums and other cultural institutions in the city can begin reopening Aug. 24, Gov. Cuomo announced last Friday — but that does not mean that all will. In Queens, at least some major ones will not.

They will be allowed 25 percent occupancy, and timed ticketing will be required, along with preset staggered entry, face coverings and controlled traffic flow, Cuomo said in a tweet.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), chairman of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, applauded the move.

“NYC museums & cultural institutions are reopening on Aug, 24th!,” Van Bramer said on Twitter. “A good sign for our city & our ongoing recovery. Culture is essential to this city, and although culture never “closed”, Im excited to have them back. Just remember to #WearAMask & dont touch the art.”

Cuomo later announced that bowling alleys could reopen Monday, Aug. 17, at 50 percent capacity and several other protocols [see separate story in some editions or at qchron.com].

The Chronicle reached out to several Queens cultural institutions for reaction to the governor’s announcement on museums.

The American Folk Art Museum was the first institution to respond to the Chronicle’s inquiry. It will not be reopening its Long Island City location right away, a spokesman said, but its main site at 2 Lincoln Square in Manhattan will restart public operations Aug. 28, with member preview days on Aug. 26 and 27.

The Queens Museum, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, said it has no startup date determined, and that it would have information regarding the governor’s announcement early this week, but it was unable to provide it by press time.

The New York Hall of Science, also located in the park, said it does not plan on reopening until the middle of next year.

“As a high-touch, highly interactive museum, the New York Hall of Science faces some unique challenges to reopening,” Margaret Honey, NYSCI’s president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “As such, we have made the decision to reopen our regular museum experience in mid-2021, which will give us the time to reimagine our offerings, create new exhibitions, and streamline entry and purchasing experiences. Prior to our reopening, we will continue to deliver on our mission by working with educators, young people and our local community through a wide-range of virtual programming, as well as fun outdoor experiences such as the Queens Drive-In.”

The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria said it had no information on reopening to share yet. MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, a branch of the Museum of Modern Art, said it would have information available next week.

Museums were supposed to be allowed to reopen as part of Phase 4 under Cuomo’s guidelines. The city entered Phase 4 on July 20, but the governor decided that museums here would not be allowed to reopen then after all, along with indoor shopping malls. The changes were among several Cuomo has made to the rules he established as the state works to recover from the coronavirus, which killed far more people in New York than in any other state, mostly early in the crisis, but now is showing up in fewer than 1 percent of people tested.

Mark Lord contributed to this story.

(1) comment

postal guy

There are a lot of phony accusations on various internet websites relating to the way Cuomo handled the virus. The bottom line is that NY was handed the toughest situation in the country, and we have survived it so far, thank to his leadership. I don't like the rules any more than anyone else, but the bottom line is they have saved lives. I talk frequently with people from other parts of the country and the world and the job NY has done with what it was handed is universally admired. The other thing I constantly hear from out of town friends is 'nobody around here is wearing a mask'. I can't remember the last time I saw someone without a mask in Queens. Good job, Governor Cuomo.

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