The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) announced that it will reopen its doors to the public on September 9, pending approval from New York State and New York City. Members will be able to visit the museum a week earlier, starting September 2. But if you’re not from the Tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut), prepare yourself to pay a higher price for an admission ticket.
The museum made the announcement on Thursday, July 30, more than four months after it closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13. When it reopens, it will limit capacity to 25% and reduce its operating days to five instead of seven (Wednesday to Sunday, from 10am-5:30pm).
Reversing a pay-what-you-wish admission policy for all visitors, the museum will start charging a fixed admission fee from visitors who are not from the Tri-state area: $23 for adults; $18 for students and individuals above age 60; and $13 for children ages 3-12. Residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will still able to pay as they wish, but they will have to present identification.
Visitors will be required to reserve timed-entry tickets online in advance and face masks will be mandatory for all patrons above the age of two. Staff will undergo daily temperature checks.
Most of the museum’s permanent exhibits will be open to the public, including the Blue Whale, the Titanosaur, and T. rex fossils, but all theatres (including the Hayden Planetarium) and halls that feature a large number of touchable and interactive exhibits will remain closed.
The museum’s public education laboratories will remain closed as well. On-site professional development sessions for teachers and non-employee visits to its library will be suspended.
Visitor amenities like food service, coat and bag check, and water fountains will not be available.
With its new ticket policy, AMNH is following the footsteps of the Metropolitan Museum, which started charging a mandatory admission from visitors who are not from New York State (with the exception of students from New Jersey and Connecticut) since 2018. The Met set its reopening date to August 29 (August 27 for members).
These opening dates are not set in stone as fears of a second wave loom over New York. Museums in the state were originally slated to be given permission to resume activity on July 20, which marked the beginning of the fourth and final phase of reopening. But earlier in July, Governor Andrew Cuomo withheld the decision indefinitely, citing the virus’s spread in other states and the possible resurgence of the virus in New York.
“We are still in a precarious position,” Cuomo said. “Not because of anything we have done, but because of the negligence of the federal government, and the states that, frankly, listen to the federal government.”