Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image is set to reopen to the public after shutting down more than a year ago as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Queens. The doors to the building, galleries and the Redstone Theater will reopen April 30, with new procedures and physical adjustments in place to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.
While the museum pivoted to online programming in the past year, it also prepared the building for a safe reopening, installing barriers where appropriate, along with a complete upgrading of the HVAC air filters and adding a dedicated ionization system that serves the Redstone Theater. New protocols that align with guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control include setting occupancy at 25 percent capacity, requiring face masks and social distancing, adding multiple hand-sanitizing stations, adhering to a strict building cleaning and maintenance schedule, and implementing timed ticketing and contactless entry where possible.
“Though our in-person activity stopped in March of last year, we are proud to have spent the past year shifting our programs online,” MoMI Executive Director Carl Goodman said. “We also served our community as a free meal distribution point and early voting poll site, and created the Queens Drive-In with our partners at Rooftop Films and New York Hall of Science. We are grateful to our members and staff who stuck with us through it all, the many supporters who donated to our fundraisers and Kickstarter campaign, and the new audiences we found across the country and around the world. We are excited to welcome everyone back to the Museum in Astoria, and to continue our online programming.”
When the building shuttered on March 13, 2020, MoMI was only two months into presenting “Envisioning 2001,” an in-depth exploration of Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece; in the midst of welcoming international filmmakers and guests to the ninth annual First Look Festival, the museum’s showcase devoted to premieres of innovative international films; and engaging students throughout the city in its education programs.
When the building reopens, in addition to “Envisioning 2001,” “The Jim Henson Exhibition” and “Behind the Screen,” the museum will also have on view, “D’oh! Animating America’s Funniest Family,” an exhibition of original animation cels from “The Simpsons,” which had opened just a few days before the pandemic shuttered the museum.
“Having opened it just weeks before the onset of the pandemic, we are so pleased to have ‘Envisioning 2001’ and related programs on view throughout the summer,” MoMI Deputy Director of Cultural Affairs said. “We are equally excited for audiences to experience a new installation of movie posters in our lobby and a program of short films from Southeast Asia in our Video Screening Amphitheater, both of which we will complement with original content on our website. We have also made changes to ‘The Jim Henson Exhibition,’ including some works on paper from The Jim Henson Company archive which have never been exhibited, and a Kermit puppet from 1963, generously donated by Heather Henson.”
In tandem with the galleries reopening, the Redstone Theater will reopen with a weekly screening of Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” to be presented in conjunction with the “Envisioning 2001” exhibition and as part of the Kubrick retrospective.
This spring, with the support of a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the museum will launch a new website to better serve a diverse audience with humanities-rich content related to the study and appreciation of the moving image from an historical and contemporary perspective. All of the museum’s recorded events from the past year and earlier will be organized to allow for easier discovery, and the site will allow for improved showcases of the museum’s collection.
The new website will be the portal through which visitors can continue to experience online programs such as Virtual Cinema presentations and live online discussions and events, as well as live-streamed events that take place at the museum.