New Yorkers flood to MoMA, aquarium as cultural institutions begin reopening

Lockdown-weary New Yorkers were able to stop staring at their TVs and start gazing at Picassos and Monets Thursday, when the Museum of Modern Art opened its doors to the public again after a lengthy coronavirus-induced closure.

Visitors to the museum — one of the first major cultural institutions in Manhattan to reopen after restrictions were lifted this week — cheered the chance to feel normal again.

“I feel a sense of freedom that I am getting to do things that I like to do again,” said Jason Barschi, 28, who visited the MoMA for the first time since it and other museums were temporarily shuttered in March due to the COVID-19.

“I was here just before COVID. It’s refreshing to see some sort of normalcy coming back,” said Barschi, a hotel industry worker who bought $70 worth of hanging art and other items at the gift shop.

A worker at the museum said it had sold about 100 tickets per hour as of Thursday afternoon, which is “about where we thought we’d be.”

Guests must now get their temperatures taken before entering, wear masks and abide by social distancing measures.

To reopen under New York’s rules, museums are limited to 25 percent capacity, must enforce social distancing and regulate the flow of crowds.

Meanwhile in Coney Island, the New York Aquarium also reopened to the general public Thursday, with parents flocking there after months of being stuck at home with restless kids.

“It’s a treat for them and it’s a treat for the parents, too, because we’re so cooped and stuck in our homes. To be out and about with our kids doing normal things, it changes the day,” said Rockaway mom Elizabeth Brandolini, 50.

She said her 6-year-old son, John, and 7-year-old daughter, Vivian, were dazzled by the octopus exhibit.

“They have been home since March so it’s been all about trying to find an activity to keep them busy and engaged outside of of the house, and it’s very limiting,” she said. “Now, what used to be commonplace feels like an adventure, which makes this even more special.”

The aquarium also requires visitors to wear masks and social distance.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art also reopened to members Thursday, with plans to allow in the general public this weekend.

The museums on Liberty and Ellis Islands reopened Monday. The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum are scheduled to open next month.

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