A Phaidon guide to New York’s museum reopenings

Heading out to admire art in Manhattan again? Then pack these books alongside a face mask and hand sanitizer
The Metropolitan Museum of Art © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cultural life begins to get back to normal in New York this month, as state and city officials approved the reopening of museums and other cultural institutions. However, don’t expect everything to click back into place as if the first half of the year hadn’t happened.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Fifth Avenue building in Manhattan will open five days a week, Thursday through Monday, 10am-5pm from 29 August, with late-night openings on Thursday and Friday, until 7pm.

The Met has developed safety procedures for its staff and visitors; it is limiting visitor numbers to a quarter of its old maximum capacity; and it is insisting on face masks and social distancing. Thankfully, that hasn’t dampened Met Director Max Hollein's excitement.

“This is the moment we've been waiting for,” he said, in anticipation of reopening on the last Saturday in August. “We're ready when you are! While the Museum was closed throughout these many months, we have been inspired by the dedication of our vast community of art lovers—both in New York City and around the world—and we are excited to now be able to open The Met Fifth Avenue to all, as well as to continue to connect with audiences everywhere through our virtual programs and tours."

For a novel take on The Met’s impeccable collection, considering investing in a copy of Art =, our fresh and unconventional approach to exploring 6,000 years of art history through 800 masterpieces from The Met. Hollein himself has described the book as “Unlike other books that cover the history of art.”


Art =

“Before Art =, wide-ranging publications on the history of art hadn't accounted for the many layered interpretations inherent in each work of art, or provided narratives showing how art objects connect across time and borders,” Hollein went on to explain in his recent Phaion.com interview. To appreciate just how Art = achieves this, go here.


The Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Ajay Suresh. Creative Commons license
The Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Ajay Suresh. Creative Commons license

The Whitney Museum of American Art, a few blocks to the southwest of The Met will welcome art lovers back a little later, on 3 September, opening Monday and Thursday, 11:30am to 6pm; on Friday from 1:30 to 9pm; and on Saturday and Sunday from 1 until 6pm.

The Whitney is also introducing a 'pay what you wish’ charge for admission, rather than a set price, with exhibitions such as Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945, and The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, back on show once more.

Feel like re-familiarising yourself with the kinds of painters and sculptors commonly displayed within this great American art institution? Then consider ordering our authoritative book, Modern Art in America 1908-68. Its author William C Agee offers a radical re-evaluation of American modernism through four generations of artists and their works.


Modern Art in America 1908-68

Still no firm news on the Museum of Modern Art’s planned reopening. However, Adam Pendleton’s solo exhibition, Who is Queen?, will certainly be a highlight is when MoMA does open its doors. The show, which had been scheduled to welcome visitors towards the end of July, is a large-scale multimedia installation, featuring “three wooden, floor-to-ceiling vertical scaffolds. These modular systems, built from four basic units, will be designed to resemble balloon framing used in American house construction,” explains Pendleton’s gallery, Pace. “Who Is Queen? critically questions the notion of the museum as repository. Utilizing social and contrapuntal compositions, Who Is Queen? will include a months-long program of live events, including screenings, readings, lectures, and musical performances.”


Adam Pendleton. Signed editions are currently available for pre-order in our store

For a deeper understanding of this important artist and his work, order a copy of our forthcoming Adam Pendleton book here. 

The New Museum, on the Bowery in Lower Manhattan has also yet to set a reopening date, though it’s doing its best to keep its clientele amused with a range of online content, including a series of bedtime stories, overseen by Maurizio Cattelan, and read by fellow artists, such as Adrian Villar Rojas, Jeff Koons, Tracey Emin, Rashid Johnson and Iggy Pop. You can find out those here, and for more on the books we publish with the New Museum, including one to accompany the recent (and possibly current, depending on the reopening) Peter Saul show, and the important and powerful forthcoming group exhibition, Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, take a look in the art section in our store.

Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America

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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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