Chicago's Museums Shutting Down for Second Time Due to COVID-19, Reopenings Uncertain

Chicago's museums are shutting down for the second time due to coronavirus restrictions. (Heidi Zeiger / Office of the Mayor)Chicago's museums are shutting down for the second time due to coronavirus restrictions. (Heidi Zeiger / Office of the Mayor)

With Gov. J.B. Pritzker announcing tighter restrictions due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, Chicago's museums are facing a second shutdown and an uncertain future.  

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Museums, theaters and casinos statewide have been ordered to close by Friday, but many museums opted to shutter immediately Tuesday, including the Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Institute of Chicago.

The Field Museum will close Friday, and the Museum of Science and Industry will be closed as of Thursday.

While some institutions anticipate reopening within a couple of weeks, others have indicated their closures are open-ended or will last through the remainder of 2020.

Many museums were slow to reopen after the spring stay-at-home order was lifted, as they implemented timed ticketing and reservation policies. Several, including the Adler Planetarium and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, have been closed continuously since March.

All of the institutions are encouraging people to take advantage of digital content and virtual experiences, among them the Museum of Science and Industry's "Christmas Around the World" exhibit, a holiday tradition for many Chicago families.

People who have already purchased tickets for dates that have now been canceled should expect automatic refunds within 5 to 10 days. Check with individual institutions regarding their policies.

Though outdoor venues aren't affected by the new restrictions, Chicago-area zoos are making adjustments nonetheless. 

The Lincoln Park Zoo announced it will move forward with its ZooLights exhibit and remain open through the holidays, but will close from Jan. 4 to March 4. In a statement, the zoo noted that most animals stick to their indoor habitats during the winter, which aren't open to the public due to coronavirus restrictions, making for a "suboptimal guest experience."

Similarly, Brookfield Zoo's Holiday Magic lights exhibit is still on, running through Dec. 31, but the zoo will then close from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, with plans to reopen March 1, presuming state guidelines allow. 

Here's where things stand as of Wednesday morning:

Shedd Aquarium: Closed. Tentatively targeting Jan. 2 for reopening.

Field Museum: Closing Nov. 20 until at least Dec. 4.

Art Institute of Chicago: Closed. No reopening day announced.

Museum of Science and Industry: Closing at 4 p.m. Nov. 18 until further notice. 

Museum of Contemporary Art: Closed. Current plan is to reopen Dec. 4.

Adler Planetarium: Closed since March. No reopening announced.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: Closed since March. No reopening announced.

National Museum of Mexican Art: Closed since March. No reopening announced.

DuSable Museum of African American History: Closed since March. No reopening announced. 

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]


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