Installation view of “Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950-2019” Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo by Sean Sime, courtesy the Whitney Museum

When the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York reopened to members on August 27 after five months of closure, eager visitors with masks lined up on carefully marked social-distancing indicators outside the museum’s glass doors.

Concerned patrons were inquiring where they would get their temperature checked, but surprisingly they already did. But how? As visitors walk through the vestibule of the museum, a tripod mounted thermal-imaging camera scans them automatically.

It's just one of the many precautions that are being take due to the city wide shutdown in March. There was a gray area of how much guidance was going to be available to institutions opening up, but museums were proactive on coming up with their own solutions in addition to the guidelines upon public openings.

Many museums banded together, following the same unification as hospitals have during this pandemic. The first meeting took place in April and have been meeting everyday since to make sure visitors and workers had reassurance as people become adjusted to this new norm.

As of now, the Met and the Whitney are local museums. If the integrity on keeping the public safe stays constant, hopefully it will be enough to push peer institutions to open up as well.

September 15, 2020 — Maya DeJesus

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