Chicagoans feel a deep loyalty for their cultural institutions and have missed them during the shutdown. July has allowed many of these establishments to reopen with new restrictions but it is a delicate dance. With an uptick in coronavirus cases, Chicago may return to Phase three. If visitors and residents all mask up and follow social distancing guidelines, the following indoor attractions can remain open.
Rediscover Chicago History, Arts, and Culture
The third-largest aquarium in the United States, the Shedd Aquarium, reopened at a limited capacity to its members on July 1 and the general public on July 3. Advanced online tickets are required for entry and all guests over the age of 2 must wear a face covering over both their nose and mouth. Directional arrows help guide visitors through one-way halls and exhibits to ensure safe physical distancing. The Shedd Aquarium has more than 5 million gallons of water in its tanks and is home to over 20,000 different species. Open exhibits allow guests to take a close up look at both saltwater reefs and freshwater habitats. During the stay-at-home orders, the animal caretakers took the penguins to visit the other enclosures within the aquarium and on a field trip to the Field Museum. Now, visitors and Chicagoans alike can visit the penguins in their museum home.
The Field Museum plans to reopen to the public on July 24 with exclusive early access to members starting July 17. Members can sign up online for a free early access ticket. Guests can revisit Sue the T. Rex and learn more about our ever-evolving planet. The museum is also introducing a brand new exhibit, “Apsáalooke Women and Warriors,” a look at the powerful women of this tribe. The Field Museum will be open Thursday-Monday and closed for cleaning and sanitation Tuesday-Wednesday. Timed-entry tickets are available and advanced reservations are strongly encouraged. The East Entrance is the only entrance open at this time and accessible for those with mobility needs. Face coverings are required for everyone over 2-years-old. Staff and guests must maintain safe physical distances; frequent hand sanitizing is recommended at the 144 sanitizing stations the museum has dispersed throughout the exhibits.
Chicago Architecture Center
Chicago has some of the most eclectic architecture in the U.S. The Chicago Architecture Center has reinstated nearly 50 walking tours in addition to reopening indoor exhibits. They have also added 7 new supersized scale models to the Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery. The gem of the center is the Chicago City Model Experience that has over 4,000 individual buildings. Tickets for both the indoor attractions and the walking tours should be purchased in advance. Face masks are required and must cover both the nose and mouth at all times even on the outdoor walking or river tours. If a prospective guest is feeling ill, the Chicago Architecture Center will happily refund the ticket or reschedule the reservation.
Discovery Center Museum
Many families with young children have been cooped up without outlets for months. The reopening of the Discovery Center Museum is welcome news. At the museum, kids can learn about art, simple machines, electricity, outer space, and so much more in hundreds of interactive exhibits. The museum has ramped up their outdoor activities and gardens to allow for ample social distancing. Advanced online reservations are available in 2 hours shifts. Face coverings are required for those over the age of 5 and strongly recommended for those that are younger. Face coverings are not required in outdoor areas if social distancing can be observed.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago originally opened its doors in 1967. After closing during the stay at home orders, they will reopen to the public on July 24 with free admission for all guests through August. Timed reservations are required and the museum is open Friday-Sunday. The first hour of each day is reserved for seniors or increased-risk individuals. Face coverings and social distancing are also required. The museum’s permanent collection of art includes more than 25,000 individual works from 1920 to the present. Not all 25,000 pieces are available for viewing year-round; they rotate throughout the year.