From learning more about such aquarium residents as penguins and beluga whales in Animal Spotlights and assisting in cleaning up natural areas on Teen Nature Days to restoring beaches and forest areas during Action Days, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium is definitely “on it” when it comes to a variety of Earth Day/Week/Month activities for all ages and dates.
Families(all age groups)
Visit the aquarium and attend an animal spotlight (included in general admission). It goes into the behaviors and adaptations of dolphins, belugas and sea lions. Guests leave with a greater understanding of these Shedd residents plus how to protect our blue planet for these animals and their wild counterparts. Tickets support Shedd’s efforts to care for the aquarium residents and research in wild aquatic ecosystems. For more information visit Animal Spotlights | Shedd Aquarium.
Join free Shedd-led Action Days in local community habitats. Guests support animals from frogs to fish while having fun and helping to restore and protect nearby beaches, waterways, and forest preserves. There are a variety of dates at different locations. For more info and to register visit Shedd Aquarium Action Days | Shedd Aquarium
Three other ways to take action for animals this Earth Day: *reduce the use of single-use plastic
* reach out to state lawmakers to let them know you support plastic reduction and reuse efforts at the policy level
*discuss the importance of caring for our natural environments your friends and family
Not all colors are outdoors at the Chicago Botanic Garden. While CBG is getting ready outdoors for its soon to be sold out holiday Lightscape, the Fine Art of Fiber has taken over the inside of the Regenstein Center.
Chicago Theater and Arts stopped for a sneak preview while it was setting up. Its impressive.
Extraordinary quilts, wall hangings and wearable fiber art such as shawls and jewelry, can be seen and items bought at the Art of Fiber show but it only goes Nov. 4-6, 2022. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info visit Chicago Botanic Garden.
Penguins aren’t the only cute, playful animals capturing attention at the Shedd.
Its two new otters now have names. The Shedd’s Animal Care Team has named Otter 926 as Suri for California’s Big Sur coast line between Carmel and San Simeon.
Go to Brookfield Zoo operated by the Chicago Zoological Society in suburban Brookfield, IL for lots of animal sightings, but not for its seven bottlenose dolphins.
Beginning early November, the dolphins (along with their support staff) have taken up residence at the Minnesota Zoo for about seven months while Brookfield’s Seven Seas area is undergoing renovations.
Among the renovations is installation of a lift platform to allow quick adjustment to water depth, a new roof and a climate-controlled purifying system.
For more Brookfield Zoo info visit Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield.
Chicago and some area schools are on Spring Vacation through April 17. But even if your youngsters’ schools already had their break, terrific exhibits at Chicago’s museums are worth a weekend visit.
Fortunately, there are some free museums, free days and free to certain ages deals that can make a Spring Break outing less of a budget breaker. Most museum no longer require masks or vaccination proof but they do require advance tickets. However check the museum website for its current requirements.
For example of “free,” the National Museum of Mexican Art is always free. Located in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood at 1852 W. 19th St., the museum is currently featuring Freda Kahlo photos. But it is always filled with colorful and interesting galleries. Visit National Museum of Mexican Art for entry information. It is currently asking for masks and social distancing.
Also, the Illinois Holocaust Museum at 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie has a promo code “SPRING 22” that is good for free admission to children and students through April 17, 2022. The museum is also free to all the last Friday of each month.
Check out the following museums for more ideas and cost saving deals:
Chicago Museum Campus
After closing for two years due to covid, the Adler Planetarium at 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. at the east end of the Museum campus, recently reopened with more interactive exhibits and reconfigured spaces. The museum is free Wednesdays from 4 to 10 p.m. Among the fun, family-friendly spaces is the Clark Family Welcome Gallery with video presentations, interactive motion-sensing displays and pop-up exhibitions. Chicago’s Night Sky is also worth experiencing.
The Field Museum, at 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. at the front end of the campus, has its free admission days May 14-15 and discounts the Discovery and all Access Pass those days so cost to Illinois residents would be $16 adult and $14 ages 3-11. Known for its dinosaur halls, The Field has gone further by going underwater to find giant species in its new temporary exhibit, Jurassic Oceans: Monsters of the Deep. Up through Sept, 5, 2022, this special exhibit needs a Discovery Pass or All Access Pass but there is plenty to see with General Admission.
Shedd Aquarium, at 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr., sits in the center of the Museum campus. The museum had free days earlier in the year but if living in Chicago find reduced fares through the Chicago Public Library: Kids Museum Passport.
Hyde Park Neighborhood
Museum of Science and Industry at 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. has free days coming April 21 and 25 and May 2, 4, 9, 17 and 18. MSI, as the museum is usually known, can fill a day without its special exhibits but it currently has the blockbuster Art of the Brick, an amazing sculpture collection of LEGO Art that is up through Sept. 5, 2022. An extra ticket is needed but the display is worth the cost.
The DuSable Museum of African American History at 740 E. 56th PL, is celebrating 61 years as the country’s oldest independent African American Museum currently has free admission for all every Wednesday. Masks are required for ages 5 and older. Among the exhibits are “Freedom: Origin and Journey” which looks at several key periods in African American history and South Side Stories such as “The Art and Influence of Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs, 1960–1980.” It looks at Burroughs’s “legacy as an artist, creator, activist and institution builder.”
Art Institute of Chicago, has a main entrances at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and around the corner at 159 W. Monroe St. to its Modern Wing (connected to the main building). It is free to Chicago teens under 18 and all youngsters under 14. Frequent AIC visitors have favorite galleries such as French Renaissance and the Thorne Rooms (miniature periods). The current exhibit is “Life and Afterlife in Egypt,” an impressive, recently re-done permanent display of items already held by the museum.
Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. is free to visitors under age 18 and Illinois residents receive free admission every Tuesday. Visitors who enjoy debating what is art and what does it illustrate should see “Based on a True Story.” Using items mostly owned by the museum, it puts together the works of 20 artists who “play with fact, fiction, and the grey areas between” that “wrestle with truth and belief by exploring fiction.”
Lincoln Park Neighborhood
Chicago History Museum at 1601 N. Clark St. is on the edge of the park. Check out its “Crossroads of America” which includes stepping aboard a fancy, old train car. Also up is an exhibit of women’s voting struggles and items from the museum’s Costume Collection. The museum is free is Illinois teens under age 18 and all children under age 12.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at 2430 N. Cannon Dr., is a Chicago Academy of Sciences museum that is also on the edge of the park. Come here to see, walk among and learn about butterflies. Exhibits also include climate change, weather and rivers.
Some Chicago museums are opening to members beginning Jan. 23 and then to the public in the coming days. The museums’ reopening comes on the heels of IL Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s announcement this week that the city has moved to tier 2 mitigation.
(Pritzker is expected to announce today, Jan. 23, that the city has also reached tier 1 thus restaurants and bars will be be allowed to re-start indoor seating at 25 percent capacity.)
The Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum on the city’s Lake Shore Drive Museum Campus are among the current open museums. The Art Institute of Chicago plans to reopen in February.
A world-renown art museum, the Art Institute of Chicago at 111 N. Michigan Ave., will reopen Feb. 11. It will start with a limited schedule Thursday through Monday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and open to members only the first hour.
More museums have indicated they will open in March. For more museum information and future openings visit Choose Chicago/museum reopening, the city’s tourism site.
Following Gov. Pritzker’s Covid-19 case mitigation orders on Nov. 17, 2020, Chicago’s museums will close this week. Several of them will shutter late afternoon Wednesday, Nov. 18.
The Shedd plans to close at 5 p.m. Wednesday and hopes to reopen Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. Its website has some fee-based videos, animal encounters and education programs to offset the loss of revenue it needs for animal care and conservation. For more information visit sheddaquarium.
MSI will close Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. The museum has digital programs and resources. Visit MSIChicago for more information. See some of the tree decorations that are part of the museum’s annual Christmas Around the world exhibit at Trees and Traditions. To see how the exhibit was build and what it looks like now visit Christmasaroundtheworld.
The museum closed back in March 2020 and has remained closed but it has an online presence for star gazers and folks who want to stay current on sky events. Visit astronomy live but also check the events that occur every week and every other week such as Skywatch Weekly. Click on the arrow to see what is available free such as NASA LIVE for the latest operations at the International Space Station.
Put field trips of the in-person kind back on the calendar. Now that the city has moved to Phase 4, Chicago’s great museums and tourist destinations are opening their doors after about four months of living in virtual YouTube segments.
Note their new hours and days. Some will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Most have timed tickets. Some have shortened hours. All will be following protocols of social distancing, wearing masks and staying within 25 % capacity. Many will have hand sanitizing stations and one-way walkway arrows.
Here is just a sampling of what to visit now and the week of July 24.
CAC, 111 E Wacker Drive, has been welcoming visitors to its skyscraper gallery upstairs and its vast panorama model of Chicago buildings in its main-floor gallery since July 3, It had already started with Chicago neighborhood tours where guests met their docents on location on June 20. Now CAC has added several tours that start from its building including the popular Architecture River Cruise, Chicago Architecture: A Walk Through Time, and Must See Chicago.
Because the tours are following strict Chicago and state guidelines, they are limited in size. “They fill fast,” said CAC Communications Director Zachary Whittenburg.
CAC is worth a stop just to see how it handles the Chicago Fire and what new buildings are in its panorama and upstairs.
“The Center’s being closed meant we were able to completely update and improve the exhibits. Walk ins are OK. It’s not a problem. We’re not at capacity. We have 10,000 square feet and there are not as many tourists this summer,” said Whittenburg.
Sitting in the middle of the Chicago Museum Campus at 1200 S. Lake shore Drive, the Shedd Aquarium reopened July 3. Timed tickets needed so plan ahead.. For info and map of routes and exhibits visit Shedd /plan visit.
The first building on the Museum campus at 1400 S. Lake shore Drive, the Field opens to members July 17 and to the public on July 24. Get tickets ahead for the date and time you want. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday, hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Use the East entrance to enter but you can leave through the East, North and south exits. (Illinois healthcare workers, teachers, and first responders have free admission and their families receive Chicago admission prices, July 24–August 9).
Visit dinosaurs upstairs in the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet and do Ancient Egypt by going through a three-story tomb (available with general admission). But save time for the extraordinary new Apsáalooke Women and Warriors exhibit in the main level’s special show space (requires an All-pass ticket).
Curated by Nina Sanders, an Apsáalooke (Ahp-SAH-luh-guh) scholar, and Alaka Wali, Field Curator of North American Anthropology, the exhibit had its opening ceremony March 13, then closed until this week due to the pandemic.
“Now we’re ready to welcome visitors to this really vibrant exhibit,” said Janet Hong, Apsáalooke Field Project Manager. “At this time in the U.S. we need cultural awareness more than ever,” she said.
Although the Field has had several Apsáalooke, (also known as the Crow Nation) cultural materials that have been studied and researched by scholars, it wasn’t until recently that the Nation’s elders and leaders gave permission for them to be displayed, according to Hong.
“Most of the material has rarely been on display,” said Hong.
She noted that Sanders was an instrumental link to the Crow Nation and worked with cultural advisers in addition to bringing in current voices and material.
Located at 220 E. Chicago Ave., MCA visitors are welcomed back July 24 with a free admission policy through August but tickets are needed so make online reservations. Just note that hours and days have been changed to Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the first hour limited to seniors and people at increased risk.
What to expect: Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago has been extended to September 27, 2020, Chicago filmmaker Deborah Stratman’s has an exhibition on her film The Illinois Parables, that includes a re-creation of the WFMT radio studio of Studs Terkel with a selection of his celebrated interviews. There is also Just Connect, an exhibition on how the pandemic has made us more aware of our desire to connect, and how we depend on our communities and families for a sense of belonging.
Following Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s announcement Monday that Chicago is on track to move to Phase 4 beginning Friday, June 26, Chicago’s popular zoo and museum destinations are making plans to reopen. They all are following timed-ticket reservations and the face covering, social distancing and look-but-don’t-touch protocols.
The free,easily walkable zoo in Lincoln Park, opens with a preview weekend June 26-28. It opens to the public June 29. Expect grounds to be open but buildings are closed. The zoo is at 2001 N. Clark Street, Chicago. For reservations and other information visit LPZoo/welcome.
For a virtual tour of the zoo with Mayor Lightfoot, go to HitPlayChicago. Released last week, the tour is Mayor Lightfoot’s latest field trip to Chicago destinations during the city’s and state’s “stay home” orders for staying safe.
Brookfield Zoo, operated in suburban Brookfield, IL by the Chicago Zoological Society, opens to members July 1 and the public July 8 using reserve-ahead, timed tickets. No tickets available at entrance.
“Brookfield Zoo has been closed for nearly four months and we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming guests back to reconnect with animals and nature,” said Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of CZS.
Admission includes access to Dinos Everywhere! and is $24.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 3-11 and $19.95 for seniors 65 and over. Parking is $15. Check protocols at CZS/Know. Indoor spaces are closed. Food carts and gift shop carts will be on walkways.
Brookfield Zoo entrances: North Gate is at 8400 31st St. (1st Avenue and 31st Street) and South Gate is at 3300 Golf Rd.
Because Chicago museums are basically indoor facilities, most of them will be opening at different times in July with timed-tickets.
Shedd Aquarium, the middle building at the Chicago Museum Campus on Lake Shore Drive, will reopen July 3. Member pre sale is June 24, public presale is June 25. Visit Tickets are for reserved time.
Other museums have said announcements will come in July. The Art Institute of Chicago is still encouraging people to visit the museum online until it reopens.
Some of us miss seeing a stage performance in person. Some miss going to the Lyric for a grand opera. Other folks miss visiting Chicago’s world class museums. The following opportunities hit these three targets while sitting at home.
Citadel Theatre has a unique experience scheduled for 6 p.m. May 21. Viewers register for what is called “The Defamation Experience.” It begins with a 70 minute film that is a one-act courtroom drama. Then there is the Deliberation. You and your fellow jury members deliberate the case on Zoom to decide the outcome.
After the deliberation and verdict, expert facilitators lead a brief post-show discussion.
Registration is free. A zoom meeting link is provided upon registration.
Hear and watch an opera segment, lecture or tour the Lyric Opera of Chicago building. The Lyric has a weekly newsletter available on its blog. Here is one aria, many audiences will find familiar.
“La donna è mobile” (“Woman is fickle”) is from the fall of 2017 performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto featuring Matthew Polenzani as The Duke. It comes in the third act where Maddalena (Zanda Švēde) flirts with the Duke.
With Chicago’s terrific destinations closed to foot traffic, families and anyone curious about what goes on at some of the city’s popular museums can take a virtual field trip thanks to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and HitPlay.
This week’s visit is to Sue, the T Rex, and other residents of the Field Museum. More on that later.
First stop was the Shedd Aquarium. The video, which went live a week ago Wednesday online and last Friday on WTTW (repeated Monday, May 4 on WTTW), started with a chuckle as viewers followed Wellington and his penguin friends into the aquarium.
Viewers then visit the Wild Reef, watch how zebra sharks line up at an unusual sort of feeding station where they touch their noses to a buoy to get their food. Then visitors see Wellington and meet a rescued green sea turtle at the Caribbean Reef.
On May 6, the video took visitors to the Field Museum. Scroll down on the HitPlay website to the Field Museum video to visit dinosaurs, a new exhibit on the Apsáalooke people, and become better acquainted with the institution’s collection of beetles and butterflies.
The video will be on WTTW Friday, May 8 and again on Monday, May 11, 2020.
Families who want to make something to go with the video can send it through social media with the hashtag #StayHomeHitPlay.
Maybe you have enjoyed Wellington the Shedd’s penguin’s exploration around the aquarium on Facebook or seen IL Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s PSA with Wellington and penguin friends on You Tube.
Now, there is a great way to revisit the Shedd with Wellington but this time with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. A video done in partnership with Citadel and Chicago cultural institutions will premiere April 29, 2020 as the first in a weekly series called StayHome.HitPlayChicago.
After premiering online on Wednesdays, the videos in the series will be aired 5:30 p.m. Fridays on WTTW and at 12:30 p.m. Mondays on WTTW Prime.
They are a fun way to go back to places you might have visited and others you may want to see when museums, zoos and other Chicago destinations reopen to the public. They are similar to field trips and will include a component for youth.
In the inaugural segment Mayor Lightfoot stops at Shedd Aquarium to visit the penguins, feed the sharks and say hello to Nickel the rescued sea turtle.
For a preview of the first segment in the series visit youtube/watch.
“Shedd Aquarium is proud to bring people eye to eye with animals and their remarkable underwater biology and aquatic biodiversity through this new opportunity,” said Shedd President and CEO Bridget Coughlin. “We can’t wait to reopen our doors and welcome everyhone back to Shedd. In the meantime, we are thrilled to kick off this at-home series and continue to welcome and connect with people virtually.”
The series takes viewers behind the scenes to such places as the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art, DuSable Museum of African American History, the Art Institute of Chicago and Lincoln Park Zoo.
“The exciting launch of “Stay Home, Hit Play” allows our city’s cultural gems to come to live, ensuring our students are able to stay connected and engaged with our world-class museums and institutions amidst the unprecedented restrictions of COVID-19,” said Mayor Lightfoot.
We are especially appreciative of the partnership of our parents, students, museum leaders and staff, WWTW, as well as Citadel whose support was instrumental for the creation of this series. As challenging as this moment has been, we will get through it together, and I look forward to joining all of Chicago in re-experiencing these inspiring sites when this crisis ends,” she said.
Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin said he was excited to “discover and rediscover” some favorite places in a new way. “These institutions embody what makes Chicago special. They invitge us to learn, imagine and dream togehter, and we hope “Stay Home, Hit Play,” will inspire children and parents this spring,” Griffin said.