What New York's Art World Looks Like Post-Lockdown


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To call the mood of this past spring in the New York art world "apocalyptic" would hardly be an exaggeration. Although it was on March 22 that the rapid spread of COVID-19 pushed governor Andrew Cuomo to order the closure of all non-essential businesses in New York state, the renowned museums and galleries that make New York City the beating heart of the US art world had already started voluntarily shutting down almost two weeks earlier out of concern for public safety.

As spring unfolded, furloughs and layoffs devastated the for-profit and nonprofit sides of the arts workforce alike; dealers started frantically pivoting to online viewing rooms to try to coax sales from collectors forbidden by law to enter their bricks-and-mortar galleries; and a major survey estimated that up to one-third of American museums might never re-emerge from the lockdown.

Yet by late June in New York, the pandemic had receded far enough that galleries were permitted to begin reopening their long-closed doors to the public if they felt ready. Governor Cuomo then signaled that the state's museums could resume operating in late August. By Labor Day weekend, a steady stream of art-starved visitors had completed the careful reanimation of the New York art world—an outcome that seemed almost unthinkable six months earlier.

So, how exactly did NYC's museums and galleries contend with a half-year of lockdown? What have they changed to accommodate the realities of the new normal? And what is the forecast for the future? On this week's episode, Artnet News's Eileen Kinsella and Tim Schneider join Andrew Goldstein to offer their insights.

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