NY Museum Update – April 2021

It has been a while. But as things start to look (cautiously) up again, it feels like a good moment to end my Museum Project’s long hiatus, assess where things are, and hopefully point toward an optimistic future for museums.

To start, I took a quantitative look at where the New York museum world stands as of thirteen months after everything hastily shut down. 

The news isn’t great, but it could definitely be worse.

The Numbers, April 2021

  • 106 museums, or 53.5% of all the museums in New York, are currently open.
  • 7 museums are temporarily closed, generally not COVID-related.
  • 2 museums are closed and seeking new spaces. I’m treating these as “permanently closed” though hopefully they’ll be back.
  • 1 museum has permanently closed for non-COVID reasons: The Metropolitan Museum of Art has ended its Met:Breuer experiment.
  • However the Met’s loss is the Frick’s gain, as the Frick Madison counts as a new (albeit temporary) museum.
  • 1 museum, Art in General, has permanently closed due to COVID.
  • That leaves 81 museums, or 40.9%, closed due to the pandemic but, at least theoretically, planning to open again as things improve.
  • One museum, the Brooklyn Historical Society, has reorganized, merging with the Brooklyn Public Library to become the Center for Brooklyn History. I’ll be curious to see what it’s like when it reopens.

For those who like pie charts, here’s what the numbers look like:

Pie chart depicting New York museums

Even museums that are open are very different experiences than they were a year ago. The vast majority of New York institutions today require advance reservations or ticket purchases, usually for specific entry times. It’s a challenging moment to just drop into a museum on a whim. Very definitely visit a museum’s website or social media before you attempt to visit the place itself. Still, it’s nice that even some smaller, quirkier gems (welcome back, City Reliquary and Nicholas Roerich Museum) have survived. And we will hopefully see more spaces reopen their doors in the coming weeks and months.

To view a list of all the open museums, visit my database page.