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Field Museum Chicago
Photograph: Michelle Kuo,The Field Museum

Some of Chicago’s biggest museums will require proof of vaccination

Prominent museums like the Field Museum and Art Institute will require vaccination cards for entry beginning on January 3.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

When Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Chicago's proof-of-vaccination mandate last week, the order only applied to indoor dining and fitness venues, as well as entertainment and recreation venues where food or beverages are served. But when the affected businesses begin requiring guests to present a copy of their vax card (and a photo ID, if they're 16 or older) on January 3, some of Chicago's most prominent museums will follow suit.

In the days since Mayor Lightfoot's press conference announcing Chicago's new proof-of-vaccination policy, the Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Shedd Aquarium and the National Museum of Mexican Art have announced that visitors will need to present a vax card for entry. In fact, the Museum of Science and Industry and the National Museum of Mexican Art have already enacted the policy—the rest will begin requiring proof of vaccination on January 3, along with the city's bars, restaurants and indoor entertainment venues.

Even though Chicago museums are "indoor entertainment venues," the halls containing exhibitions technically aren't covered under the current language of the Chicago vaccination requirement. In a statement to NBC 5 Chicago, a representative for the city clarified that, "it is only the dining area (food or drink) within a museum that needs to abide by the requirement." 

While the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and Shedd Aquarium currently operate cafes and restaurants that are covered by the city's vaccination requirement, it's clear that local museums are approaching the coming weeks with an abundance of caution as case numbers in Chicago (and Illinois) are at an all-time high. In an email sent to guests, the Art Institute of Chicago explained that the the museum is requiring proof of vaccination "In an effort to ensure that our museum is as safe as possible for all."

If you're planning on visiting any of the aforementioned museums in the coming weeks, here's what you'll need to provide upon entry:

  • Your vaccination card, a photocopy of your vaccination card, a digital photo of your vaccination card or a printed record from a vaccine provider (required for all guests age 5 and older)
  • A valid photo ID (required for all guests age 16 and older)

While other prominent local institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago History Museum and the DuSable Museum of African American History haven't yet announced whether or not guests will be required to provide proof of vaccination, it's entirely possible that they'll fall in line with their peers. If you're planning to check out some amazing museum exhibitions in the new year, you should probably bring your vax card.

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