Thanks to Chicago's move back to Tier 2 of the Illinois Resurgence Mitigation Plan on Monday, local cultural institutions like museums and arts centers are now able to welcome back guests. While many museums are waiting to announce reopening plans, the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum have already unveiled the dates when visitors will be able to explore their exhibitions.
The Field Museum will be the first to reopen, ushering in museum members on Thursday, January 21 and Friday, January 22 before allowing the general public to step inside beginning Saturday, January 23. Next week, the Field Museum will host two free general admission days for Illinois residents on Monday, January 25 and Thursday, January 28. The safety precautions in place will mirror those used when the institution reopened over the summer, capping daily attendance at 25 percent of the museum’s full capacity, requiring the use of face masks and using floor markers as well as one-way paths to encourage social distancing.
Some of the Field Museum's smaller exhibitions and interactive features will be off limits for the time being, including the Crown Family PlayLab. However, the reopening will give guests that chance to experience the museum's first exhibition curated by a Native scholar, "Apsáaooke Women and Warriors," which opened just before the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Moving forward, the Field Museum will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesday, operating from 9am to 5pm on every other day of the week.
Shedd Aquarium is also taking a two-tiered approach to its reopening, welcoming members from January 27 through 29, ahead of the general public on Saturday, January 30. Face coverings will be required at all times, tickets must be purchased in advance and interactive elements in exhibitions will be disabled to decrease frequently touched surfaces. The Shedd will be open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm on weekdays and 9am to 6pm on weekends.
With a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 recently found in a Chicago patient, museum visitors should keep the words of Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in mind: "With new variants of COVID-19 spreading, it is more important than ever to follow the public health guidance that keeps people safe—wear your mask and watch your distance."
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