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Why Now Might Be the Best Time to Visit New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art

Outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

I did – and it was awesome! Hey, I'm not endorsing irresponsible travel during a pandemic. I'm only suggesting that if you live in a state that has a travel agreement with New York, it's something to consider.

When you go to a popular museum, it’s usually very crowded, but the pandemic has changed the typical museum visit into a private museum practically! I had to be in New York City and figured I might as well make a mini vacation out of it. Since I live in New Jersey, there are no quarantine restrictions between New York state and New Jersey, so it made planning less cumbersome. It also happened to be Bank of America’s Museums On Us weekend*, which is the first full weekend of each month and I happened to be in NYC on the first full weekend of the month, so I was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of it!

* According to its website, “during the first full weekend of every month, Bank of America has offered our valued cardholders free general admission to more than 225 cultural institutions in dozens of cities across the US where our customers live and work.”

Why did we choose the Metropolitan Museum of Art?

First, it’s an incredible museum. Second, it was on the list of Museums On Us free entry.

The visit

Forget about seeing the entire museum in one visit – the museum is massive. Knowing that, pick a few exhibits you really want to see and spend an hour or two.

These days, everything has to be planned – even museum visits - online reservations are required because capacity is limited. So no walk ups the day of in the era of COVID my friends.

To make reservations, go the Metropolitan Museum’s website. Under "Visit", click “Plan Your Visit”, then choose either the Met Fifth Avenue or the Met Cloisters (the Cloisters an incredible museum to visit on a beautiful day). Click on “Visit the Met Fifth Avenue”, then “Reserve a time to visit”. At that point, just select your date and entry time. Reminder, that reserving a time only saves a place. You still have to buy your ticket once you arrive at the museum or you can reserve your place and buy your timed ticket online. I didn't buy a ticket because I was going to take advantage of Museums on Us. I received a reservation number and and an email confirmation. Here’s part of the the email I received.

Thank you for your order.

This reservation allows access to the Museum only at the specified date and time; it is not your ticket to the Museum. If you are a Member, your Membership card will be scanned to provide you access into the galleries. If you are not a Member, you must either purchase a ticket or redeem a voucher or pass for admission to the galleries after you arrive at the Museum. If you are looking to purchase timed ticket to the Museum please see here.

If you are a Member, enter at 81st Street and Fifth Avenue. If you are not a Member, enter at 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

When you arrive at the museum, you have to cue up outside and be let in – no just walking in. We had 10am reservations and the museum opens at 10am so we stood outside (in the rain- yuck). 10am is fairly early by New York City standards, so there were probably about a dozen people waiting to enter. There are markers on the ground to socially distance. Upon entering, everyone has to get their temperature taken in addition to a bag search.

The main visitor entrance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

If you are taking advantage of Museums on Us, once you actually get into the museum, go to the ticket counter and present your Bank of America card and you will be issued a ticket. Otherwise, you can buy a ticket once inside or buy a timed ticket online by following the easy, three-step instructions below the museum you’ve selected - tickets are $25/person.

We headed into the medieval armor section first – No one. No. one. It was crazy. Then we headed into some of the eastern art rooms. No body. Not a soul. It was almost creepy to be all alone, but wonderful because you didn’t have to fight the crowds. Next we wandered into the modern art section. There were like, three people in the rooms, including museum staff. After that, we headed into the Impressionists exhibits, which had the most people – maybe 10 to 12, but nothing close to what I envision you might see on a pre-COVID visit.

We had this room all to ourselves at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art

COVID aside, this was my favorite visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was free from crowds and people jockeying for a viewing position. It was what I would love museums to be all the time and totally unrealistic. Again, I'm not endorsing irresponsible travel, but if you live in a state that has a reciprocal agreement with New York, like my state, and you have the ability to go, it's something to consider.

Glass reindeer sculpture, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Happy holidays everyone - and, here's to a better 2021!

As French realist Gustave Courbet said in this painting (I'm guessing), "here's to a better 2021!"


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