The National Gallery Of Art Will Partially Reopen Starting July 20 It is one of the first museums on the National Mall to reopen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and the city's first major art museum to do so.
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NPR logo The National Gallery Of Art Will Partially Reopen Starting July 20

The National Gallery Of Art Will Partially Reopen Starting July 20

The National Gallery of Art will be one of the first museums on the National Mall to reopen. soomness/Flickr hide caption

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Starting on July 20, visitors will be allowed into parts of D.C.'s National Gallery of Art for the first time in four months. It is one of the first museums on the National Mall to reopen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and the city's first major art museum to do so.

The museum plans to reopen only the ground floor of its West Building for now. It also will implement a number of new crowd control measures, including reduced hours (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), required timed entry passes and a limit of 500 visitors total per day.

Visitors will be required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

"Since our temporary closure in March, we've been preparing for the day when we could safely welcome visitors back into the Gallery," Kaywin Feldman, the museum's director, said in a statement. "I look forward to once again fulfilling our mission as the nation's art museum—a space for reflection, beauty, and public enjoyment."

Visitors to the West Building's ground floor galleries will be able to see Impressionist still life paintings; medieval, Renaissance and baroque sculpture and decorative arts; and 19th and 20th century sculptures, including a set of sculptures by the French master Edgar Degas.

The museum also has extended the run of two exhibitions that were open when the gallery closed down in March to prevent the spread of coronavirus: Degas at the Opéra (extended through Oct. 12) and True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870 (extended through Nov. 29).

The museum first began its reopening process by unlocking the Sculpture Garden on June 20. Since then, the garden has been operating with reduced hours and a limited capacity of 271 people. All visitors ages 2 and up are required to wear face masks.

The rest of the West Building will reopen when the city enters Phase 3, according to the museum. The East Building is undergoing a major roof renovation and is expected to reopen in late fall.

Under the city's Phase Two guidelines, museums and galleries can reopen with limited capacity and physical distancing measures in place. They can also host small events of up to 50 people. However, guided tours and large tour groups are not permitted.

While the National Gallery is the city's first major art institution to reopen, it's not the first museum to take the leap. Two private museums in the vicinity of the Mall — the International Spy Museum and the Museum of the Bible — reopened in late June. Both institutions had to modify their visitor experiences, including handing out individual styluses to use on exhibit touch screens and putting up plexiglass panels at ticket counters, gift shops and cafes.

Meanwhile, the city's museum behemoth, the Smithsonian, has yet to announce any concrete reopening plans. The National Zoo in Northwest D.C. and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., will reopen first, though the Smithsonian has not released the exact dates.

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