Chicago Museums Can Reopen in Phase 4, But Not All of Them Will

(Adler Planetarium / Facebook)(Adler Planetarium / Facebook)

Museums and aquariums are allowed to reopen during phase four of Illinois’ reopening plan, provided they reduce the number of visitors inside at any given time and adhere to other public health guidance.

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That capacity restriction, which allows occupancy to reach just 25%, is partly why the Adler Planetarium is waiting to reopen until phase five, which, according to the state’s reopening plan, will not arrive until there is a vaccine, effective and widely available treatment, or the elimination of new cases over a sustained period.

In a statement, the Adler Planetarium said museums “could very easily need to shut down again if there is a spike” in coronavirus cases.

“For both our financial health and the well-being of our staff, we made the decision to wait until we can have a full public opening again,” said Jennifer Howell, senior manager of public relations at Adler Planetarium, in an email to WTTW News. “We will continue to reassess the situation should we feel we can open down the road in phase four.”

Amid the height of the pandemic in mid-May, the planetarium announced it was laying off 120 employees “in order to help the Adler survive.”

Illinois officials have said capacity restrictions will be continually reassessed according to the latest public health metrics during phase four.

In addition to capacity restrictions, museums should ensure visitors have face coverings and screen them for COVID-19 symptoms, which can include temperature checks.

Spur-of-the-moment trips to museums may be a thing of the past — at least for now. According to state guidelines adopted by institutions including the Shedd Aquarium, timed tickets should be sold in advance to allow for staggered guest arrival.

Expect to see hand-sanitizing stations, social distancing markers for viewing exhibits and physical barriers in places where social distancing can’t be maintained.

Guided tours should be a capped at a maximum of 50 people per tour guide, according to state guidelines, which also state social distance of at least 6 feet should be maintained between people who don’t live in the same household.

Here’s a rundown of opening plans for Chicago museums and cultural institutions:

— Adler Planetarium: Closed until phase five.

— American Writers Museum: Opened to the public July 3. 

— Art Institute of Chicago: Opens to the public July 30.

— Chicago Architecture Center: Opened July 3 to the public.

— Chicago Children’s Museum: Currently reviewing gathering requirements and balancing them with the safety of staff and guests before setting a reopening date.

— Chicago History Museum: Opens to the public July 10.

— DuSable Museum of African American History: Has not set a firm reopening date and is still reviewing various rules and recommendations.

— Field Museum: Opens July 17 to members and July 24 to the public.

— Museum of Contemporary Art: Opens to the public July 24. 

— Museum of Contemporary Photography: Opened July 7. 

— Museum of Science and Industry: Opens to the public Aug. 1.

— Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: Closed until further notice.

— Shedd Aquarium: Opened to the public July 3.

The National Museum of Mexican Art says it is working on reopening plans.

We will update this article as more announcements are made. 

Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz (773) 509-5452  [email protected]

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