Explore the Exhibition

White text on a black background reads "New York Responds The First Six Months"

New York Responds: The First Six Months includes photographs, artworks, audio, video, and artifacts documenting New Yorkers’ response to the crisis of COVID-19 and their uprising against structural racism. It covers the events of March 1 to September 1, 2020, and it is the digital companion to the physical exhibition that opened at the Museum of the City of New York on December 18, 2020.  

Learn more and explore the content of the exhibition in the thematic sections below.  

The COVID City

The cityscape in New York was dramatically transformed by the pandemic.

Facing the Virus

In a climate akin to wartime, New Yorkers came together—often virtually—to remember, to mourn, and to heal.

Healthcare Crisis

As NYC faced down the virus, healthcare workers met the challenge with determination and a spirit of innovation.


Clapping and banging pots at 7 p.m. became a way to thank essential workers for their service and sacrifices.


Wearing a mask became an opportunity for personal expression – whether in the form of levity or as a message of protest.


For the first time in the city’s modern history, isolation became a constant for millions of gregarious New Yorkers.


Keeping healthy, connecting with loved ones, and avoiding boredom became tools for sanity amidst the tragedy.

The New Normal

Empty streets and playgrounds, the wailing of ambulances, a life lived at a distance: COVID ushered in a “new normal.”

Getting Around

One of the greatest challenges during the lockdown was how to keep New Yorkers moving safely.


For the New York restaurant industry, which operates on thin margins, COVID-19 was catastrophic.

Mutual Aid

As the pandemic spiraled across the five boroughs, New Yorkers launched initiatives to help their neighbors.

The Protest City

The city's streets, parks, bridges, and edifices became scenes of protest, passion, and sometimes confrontation.


Thousands of New Yorkers captured images of the mass Black-led uprisings against police violence and systemic racism.


Witnesses captured images of clashes between protestors and police, as well as acts of solidarity.

The Politics of COVID

Like the anti-racist uprisings, the COVID pandemic exposed and amplified existing social and economic inequality.

Working Together for BLM

During the pandemic, activists used varied means to push for a future in which Black lives would truly matter.

Art as Response

Art was a potent tool for political expression and communication in a moment of social reckoning for our city, nation, and world.

Street Art

NY Responds looks at how street art took on a special urgency during the events of 2020.


Listen to the voices of New Yorkers as they speak about these critical six months and how their communities responded.


New York Responds is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Additional support provided by M&T Bank and the Honorable Diana Ayala - New York City Council District 8.

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