MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, NY — The two marble lions that watch over the entrance to the New York Public Library's historic main building on Fifth Avenue have been outfitted with masks to serve as a visual reminder of safe behavior as the system prepares to reopen.
Patience and Fortitude were outfitted with the custom "lion-size" protective equipment this week, according to New York Public Library officials. The system will reopen several branches in coordination with the Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library systems on July 13 for grab-and-go service.
"We will get to the other side of this public health crisis together. But to do so, we must remain vigilant, we must have patience and fortitude, and we must follow what experts tell us, especially as we continue to reopen our cities. The lions, protectors of knowledge and truth who have seen 109 years worth of history, are setting that example," NYPL President Anthony W. Marx said in a statement.
Patience and Fortitude underwent a $250,000 renovation in the fall. The lion statues were carved out of Tennessee pink marble in the Bronx studio of the Piccirilli Brother in the early 1900s.
The New York Public Library will begin its phased reopening of physical branches in July after shutting down in March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. In the first phase, visitors will be required to wear masks, physically distance from staff and other guests and adhere to capacity limits. Small portions of the physical library space will open for contactless pickup and returns, and browsing will not be allowed.
Branches set to reopen on July 13 include: Manhatan's George Bruce, Epihany andlibraries, the Bronx's Belmont, Francis Martin and Parkchester libraries and Staten Island's Richmondtown and Todt Hill libraries.