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.
Who would have expected Ilinois’ Governor Pritzker to waddle through the Shedd Aquarium with Wellington its famous wandering penguin. But “All In,” the gov’s PSA message looks and sounds great when coupled with the Shedd’s famed penguins.
“Shedd Aquarium is proud to partner with the state of Illinois to support and promote the unifying message of ‘All in Illinois’,” said President and CEO Bridget C. Coughlin.
“We sincerely hope the incredible connection and joy the aquatic world brings to millions of guests each year will also help to amplify this important message to millions more during this unprecedented time when we all must do our part to stay healthy and safe,” Coughlin said.
Looks like the internet, TV and bookstores such as Barnes & Noble are going to be the go-to places for A & E, at least through March.
The latest closures to come into the Chicago Theater and Arts on-line desk are the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and some museums. Please carefully check possible reopening and rescheduling dates and ticket options.
The museum will be shuttered from today, March 14, through March 28 but events such as tours, performances and lectures will be on hiatus through April 10, according to a just released statement.
It added that the closure will allow the museum to develop “rigorous health and safety standards and protocols.” Purchased tickets can be refunded to the card used within 10 business days.
Fortunately, AIC’s current exhibition, “El Greco: Ambition and Defiance” goes through June 21, 2020 so there is still time to see the famed artist’s most notable works and also learn he was skilled at more than religious paintings.
Beginning March 12, all Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association concerts at Symphony Center and pre- and post-concert special events were canceled through at least the next 30 days . The CSOA’s statement said ticket holders to canceled concerts could exchange them for other concerts or request a refund. For more information call (312) 294-3000 or visit CSO org/alert.
Museum Closure Updates
Citing both IL Governor J.B. Pritzker’s mandate to close gatherings involving 1,000 people or more and their own desire to safeguard their patrons and staff, several museums have closed for the rest of March. However, their re-opening varies by museum so best plan is to check their websites.
Normally jammed with students on Spring Break, the Shedd, arguably Chicago’s top (non-art) museum attraction, is closed through March 29. Their statement reads: “Our dedicated caretakers and veterinarians will continue to provide the highest standards of professional care and welfare for our animals on site. And, until we can welcome you back, we invite you to stay connected to them behind the scenes via Shedd’s Facebook and Instagram, as well as explore, experience and learn more about the aquatic animal world through our other digital resources.
For information on refunds and rescheduling of previously purchased tickets, group and experience reservations, programs and events and more, please email email@example.com or call us at( 312) 939-2438.
There still are a few days left to explore the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry and some of Chicago’s other world-class museums without dipping into fall school supply funds.
Some museums are always free. Others have free admission on certain days or hours of the week. But check what is available with free admission because at some museums general admission is free but there still are ticketed exhibits. A valid ID with proof of residency is needed. if the free day is for Illinois residents or Chicago youth.
Children under age 14 always admitted free. Chicago teens under age 18 are also admitted free. In addition, admission is free to Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. The Ryan Learning Center near the Modern Wing entrance is always free to families and children’s care givers.
The main entrance is at 111 S. Michigan Ave. but there is also an entrance around the corner at the museum’s Modern Wing, 159 E. Monroe St. For hours and more information call (312) 443-3600 or see artic/visit.
The museum is at 220 E. Chicago Ave. just east of Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile. Admission is free for youth 18 and younger every day and for Illinois residents on Tuesdays. For hours and more information call (312) 289-2660 or see MCAChicago/visit.
The museum is free to Illinois residents Tuesdays from 12:30 to 9 p.m. and always free to Illinois youth under age 18. Located at 1601 N Clark St., the museum is on the edge of Lincoln Park. For more information call (312) 642-4600 or see ChicagoHistory/visit.
Located at 740 E. 56th Place in Washington Park at 57th and cottage Grove, the museum’s exhibits feature augmented reality when tied to an app that can be easily downloaded. Admission is free every Tuesday.
The museum is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive at the west end of Chicago’s Museum Campus. It has free basic admission for Illinois residents on Wednesdays from Aug. 14 to Nov. 13, 2019.
Go to FieldMuseum/exhibitions then click on the individual exhibits to see which ones are included in basic admission or needs an All Access or Discover Pass. For more information call (312) 922-9410 or see Field Museum/visit.
Think of this museum as an iceberg with much of what there is to see below the Michigan Avenue and Upper Wacker Drive level. It is inside the Southwest Bridgetower but entry is down at river level at 99 Chicago Riverwalk at the northwest corner of Michigan and Wacker. Sundays are free. Visitors learn about the historic structure, the river’s bridges and the Chicago River.
Located at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive in a building from the 1893 Columbian Expostion, MSI is among the world’s largest science museums so there is plenty to see on free general admission days for Illinois residents even though they don’t include the ticketed exhibits. Coming free days are Aug. 26-28, 2019.
The museum is at 1852 W 19th St, in the Pilsen neighborhood, south west of downtown Chicago. Admission is free, daily. For hours and more information call (312) 738-1503 or see National MuseumofMexicanArt/faqs.
The Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, is the second building on Chicago’s Museum Campus. Lines are long any day but particularly on free days so go early. Capacity is limited so some people reserve their tickets on line for a $3 transaction fee. Illinois resident free days are Aug. 26-28, 2019.
Illinois residents get access to all exhibits, chats, presentations and Stingray Touch. For more information call (312) 939-2438 or see Shedd/visit.