It’s strange to picture an art museum empty. To think of the Metropolitan Museum of Art without its joyous hubbub, or the Frick Collection without its respectful hush, is to think, in practical terms, of an enormous liability. When, in March, the swift advance of COVID-19 closed museums across the country, some predicted losses of tens of millions of dollars. “Our primary responsibility, and our most valuable asset, is creating a condition for human beings to be in the same space as works of art,” Gary Tinterow, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, tells Vogue. “That first physical, visceral, emotional experience. It’s going to the stadium and watching the football game with 60,000 people, versus watching it at home with some of your friends.” Great art, like any great event, demands that you show up in person.
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