As New York City welcomes back its gems, including restaurants and Broadway shows, on its road to COVID-19 recovery, the American Museum of Natural History is also doing so - in quite the literal sense.
On June 12, the iconic museum's Alison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals will make its re-debut to the public with a major redesign and more than 5,000 specimens - including a 632-carat emerald - to marvel at.
Courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History
"It is absolutely thrilling and it's also such a positive thing, for New York and for the museum," AMNH president Ellen Futter told Travel + Leisure of the Halls' reopening, noting that the timing couldn't be better.
"They are unique for this moment," she said. "They offer the perfect antidote for pandemic stress and uncertainty because they're so grounding, they're so elemental and so joyful. And who doesn't love something that's shiny and gorgeous?"
Additionally, inside the Halls, visitors will find a temporary exhibit, "Beautiful Creatures," which houses animal-inspired jewels with the most notable being created by Cartier and Tiffany.
Courtesy of American Museum of Natural History
The museum no longer has capacity limits, however, timed reservations are required until June 21 and visitors must wear facemasks. At the time of its September reopening, the attraction operated at 25% capacity.
"You can feel the change, people are here," Futter said of the increasing amount of visitors.
"After so many months of being virtually connected you have an opportunity to share an experience with people you know [and] love but also with ones that we don't know, and I think that's very special right now," she added. "So to come here feel good about it and feel satisfied with something stimulating, beautiful, and informative and be with others, that's pretty great."
Courtesy of The American Museum of Natural History
The museum also hosts one of the city's most unique vaccination sites - right under its iconic blue whale - playing a key role in New York's recovery from the pandemic.