After more than two months of closure under Illinois’ Mitigation requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19, museums and cultural institutions have begun to reopen as Chicago and the regions surrounding it enter Tier 1.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced on Jan. 18 that museums could reopen with reduced capacities and a high cleaning schedule beginning Jan. 22. These protocol are similar to what most museums experienced during the Summer of 2020, with smaller-than-usual crowds, hand sanitizing stations and constant cleaning.
We’ll update this article as new information arrives.
Note: Reopened Jan. 28
Purchase timed tickets online (and take advantage of promotional offers) and wear a mask when you visit. Handrails and glass on TILT will be sanitized after every use, and food options from the bar and cafe will be grab-and-go. If you’re not ready to visit, check out 360Chicago’s list of 360 Things to do at Home or ride Chicago’s tallest thrill ride with a Virtual TILT.
Note: Reopened Feb. 11.
When the museum reopens, timed tickets and masks will be required to visit. Monet and Chicago has been extended to June 14 for families that had not yet seen it. Virtual visits to the Art Institute include exploring old collections, a trip behind the scenes of some of the hot spots at the museum and art activities for young learners. Many are free and accessible for families with kids of all ages. Older budding artists can enjoy a lecture about “Toulouse-Lautrec and the Celebrity Culture of Paris” on Feb. 25 (registration is required).
Note: The zoo previously scheduled a two-month shutdown and will reopen March 1
While the zoo is closed during its previously scheduled two-month shutdown, families are encouraged to visit Brookfield Zoo’s Facebook page for weekday chats about zoo animals. When the zoo reopens, the Dinos Everywhere exhibit returns for families who missed it last summer. The more than 40 animatronic dinosaurs are set to be scattered throughout the park, and visitors can see them without the need for an extra ticket. When the zoo reopens, timed tickets and reservations will be required and all indoor spaces – except for restrooms – will be closed.
Note: Reopened Feb. 5
The museum reopened Feb. 5 with social distancing protocol in place, and outdoor areas are still available. Masks are not required outdoors, but are required inside buildings and while in restrooms. Check the park website for virtual events.
Note: Reopens March 4
The Chicago History Museum will remain closed during the colder months and has elected to reopen on Chicago’s birthday: March 4. Free admission will welcome all visitors on reopening day. In the meantime, virtual tours and seminars are continually added to the museum’s schedule. Teens and tweens can explore the extensive collection of online exhibits, including “A Wheel With A View” about the 1893 Ferris Wheel and “Exploring Chicago’s Culinary History.”
Parks are open for walking and ice skating. Families can rent skates and reserve times at the Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park or visit the rinks closest to them. Families can visit chicagoparkdistrict.com to begin registering for spring events beginning March 8. Park playgrounds and pools will also begin reopening after March 1. Masks are mandatory in the parks and on playground equipment and parking fees will be enforced.
During the day, visitors can see the perimeter walk, Thomas English Walled Garden, Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden and most areas of the Malott Japanese Garden. Restrooms will be available in the Visitor Center and Regenstein Center’s Greenhouse Galleries. Though the Orchid Show was canceled this year, online programming includes classes for artists of all ages.
The Riverwalk is open from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, though verify the hours for any stores or restaurants you plan to visit. Face coverings are required and gatherings of more than 10 are prohibited.
While the building is closed, online events and virtual tours are still available. The CAC@home series launched last year is frequently updated with new content and live, virtual events. Walking tours resumed Feb. 13 with reduced capacity and masks required.
Tickets provide zoo access for one hour. Masks are required for all guests over the age of 2 when social distancing cannot be maintained. The caboose, nature play areas and inside viewing of rabbits and chickens remain closed and daily duck and chicken feedings are suspended.
Note: Reopened Jan. 24
The museum has a new special exhibit – Hot Wheels Race to Win – scheduled to open Jan. 24 when the museum reopens. Online tickets and reservations are good for two-hour stays. Temperature checks and health screenings will apply to both staff and guests, and hand sanitizer will be available for use as guests enter. Staff and guests ages 6 and older are required to wear masks; guests 5 and younger are encouraged to wear masks, but not required. Check out the museum’s “Playful Learning at Home,” which includes curbside pickup of science kits.
Note: Reopened Jan. 28
The museum is open Thursdays-Sundays and is free on the first Friday of each month. One-way directionals will guide guests through the museum, and social distancing and masks are expected. The museum’s exhibition Wright Before the ‘Lloyd’ closed Feb. 14. Learn more about the next exhibit, There is Black Housing in the Future: Equitable Public Housing as Memorial, with online discussions and hear from the artists via videos (this exhibition opens March 4). Check out more online exhibits in the art museum’s “At Home” offerings.
Note: Reopened Jan. 22
Timed tickets are required and visits are limited to one hour. With capacity limits in place, each group is allowed no more than five people. A new exhibit, Together We Cannot Fail: Overcoming the Great Depression, has opened and runs through May 2. Kids can also enjoy “Lessons from the Schoolmarm,” adapted for online learning lessons from the one-room schoolhouse.
Note: Reopened Jan. 23
Field has capped daily attendance at 25 percent, install floor markers to ensure social distancing and masks are required inside the museum. High-touch areas and screen interactives as well as the Crown Family PlayLab and smaller galleries will not be available. After reopening, the museum will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Visit the museum’s website for virtual events like “Meet a Scientist” and learn more about other STEM exhibits with “SUE Science Saturdays.” Free admission days have been reinstated and occur: Feb. 25, March 8, March 11 and March 15.
The Forge is the area’s newest high climbing adventure area, open seven days a week. Ice skating and outdoor dining are available with reservations.
Note: Reopened Feb. 3
The museum will host visitors with free admission on Wednesdays in February and March. Masks are required and temperature checks will be given upon entry. A new exhibit, “Mandela: Struggle for Freedom,” opened Feb. 18, and families can experience the tiny cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in jail. Guests can also learn Holocaust history and tour the museum virtually.
Note: Reopened Jan. 29
Guests can visit the museum using the VIP (Very Important Play) program, reserving two hours of museum time for as many as 10 people. Costs vary by package and range from $100-$200 as kids up to age 8 can enjoy climbing on Thomas the Tank Engine, exploring Kohl’s Main Street or playing with six of the museum’s top attractions. Meanwhile, families can take Virtual Field Trips with Kohl, as curated programs are designed for kids in grades K-3 or PK-1.
Families are encouraged to bike, run, walk and rollerblade in the same family unit. Due to winter conditions, the trail will close if there is a threat that it will ice over or if there are high waves. More entry points will open in March and parking will be regulations at the lakefront will also be lifted. Large gatherings are prohibited and social distancing is required. Check the Chicago Park District website for related closure information.
Note: Reopened Jan. 22
Reserve a two-hour playtime to enjoy the attractions and play zones at the Legoland Discovery Center. Bricks and play spaces are cleaned between appointments. Playtimes are available Fridays-Sundays and the retail store is open Fridays-Tuesdays.
Note: A previously scheduled two-month closure is in effect; the Zoo will reopen March 4.
Though the zoo is closed, virtual events can still be accessed online. Members only can visit the zoo Feb. 27-28.
Note: Reopened Jan. 20
Preregister for tickets on the museum’s website. Face masks are required and temperature checks will be given at the door. Capacity limits are in place as the museum reopens. Future geologists can check out the museum’s calendar of virtual activities.
Walking and hiking trails are available. The Visitor Center, the Arboretum Store and the Ginkgo Café are available with adjusted hours.
Notes: Reopens March 2
Note: Reopened Jan. 29
Chicago’s newest museum had a short opening run before the November shutdown and will have sanitary precautions in place upon reopening. Timed tickets are required and masks and temperature checks are mandatory. The museum has installed an air purification system into the HVAC to help maintain cleanliness.
Notes: Reopens March 4 to members, March 7 to general public
Check out science at home activities as well as virtual events and storytimes focused around the museum’s top exhibits. The museum is timing its reopening with the start of its newest exhibit, Marvel: A Universe of Super Heroes. Timed tickets are on sale, and the museum will be open Wednesdays-Sundays.
Chicago’s largest tourist attraction has closed until Spring 2021. The Chicago Children’s Museum located at Navy Pier has recipes for play at home and online projects with kids available on its website.
Note: Reopened Jan. 30
Masks will be required indoors and out and advanced ticket purchases are recommended. Social distancing is required in every gallery and exhibition space and hand sanitizer will be available for staff and guests. For families not ready to leave home, virtual programs include animal encounters, camps, activities and videos. Watch Shedd’s social media feeds for the continued adventures of Wellington the rockhopper penguin.
Notes: Reopens Feb. 26
The reimagined WNDR experience requires face masks, social distancing and timed tickets. The museum has increased air ventilation and filtering throughout the building and features one-of-a-kind installations from artists, collectives, and studios locally and globally. The museum is open Thursdays-Sundays with the first hour on Saturdays and Sundays featuring complimentary tickets for frontline workers and their families.
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