Due to a spike in novel corona virus (COVID-19) cases in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker unveiled “Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigations” that would go into force starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, November 20, A.D. 2020, under which all museums, theaters and movie theaters, and casinos in Illinois must close. Bars and restaurants cannot provide indoor service, must close at 11:00 p.m. and cannot re-open before 6:00 a.m. the next day. Stores, gyms, and hotels can remain open, but with limited capacity. General merchandise stores, “big box” stores that sell groceries and have in-house pharmacies, convenience stories, and gyms are supposed to operate at 25% capacity. Grocery stores and pharmacies can operate at 50% capacity. Illinois residents are supposed to “Limit in home gatherings to household members” under “Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigations,” which is to say a nuclear family can hold Thanksgiving dinner, but the extended family cannot gather in one house. Nor can one invite over friends. This plan is being rolled out because for the twelfth day in a row, the number of new COVID-19 cases – not deaths, but cases – in the state was over 10,000.
The larger museums – including the Museum of Science and Industry, The Field Museum of Natural History, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago History Museum – are able to offer the public digital access to collections of artifacts, specimens, artworks, and archival materials. Some of them are offering individuals and families ideas for at-home activities. The John G. Shedd Aquarium is closed like The Field Museum of Natural History and the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, so all three institutions on the Museum Campus in the Chicago Park District’s Burnham Park are closed.
Note that while the Shedd Aquarium is closed, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Lincoln Park on the North Side of Chicago and Brookfield Zoo in west suburban Brookfield, Illinois remain open. However, one must make a free reservation in advance to visit the Lincoln Park Zoo and purchase tickets in advance to visit the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo. Tuesdays and Thursdays in November and Mondays and Tuesdays in December through Tuesday, December 22, A.D. 2020 are free at the Brookfield Zoo thanks to xfinity, but one must still reserve tickets in advance. According to W.T.T.W., Chicago’s largest P.B.S. television station, next year, though, the Lincoln Park Zoo plans to be closed from the 4th of January through the 4th of March and Brookfield Zoo will be closed from the 1st of January through the 28th of February.
Museum of Science & Industry
The Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.) in the Chicago Park District’s Jackson Park in Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago announced on its Website that it would close on Wednesday, November 14, A.D. 2020 at 4:00 p.m. and remain “closed to guests until further notice.” All events during this period have been cancelled. As with the first closure, in March, if you pre-purchased tickets for that time frame, you will be refunded automatically.
Initially, the M.S.I. announced on Friday, March 13, A.D. 2020 that due to the spread of the novel corona virus (COVID-19) in America, it would be closed from Saturday, March 14, A.D. 2020 through Monday, April 6, A.D. 2020. On March 27, A.D. 2020, the M.S.I. announced it would be closed through Friday, May 1, A.D. 2020. Subsequently, the closure was made indefinite. Finally, the M.S.I. announced Thursday, July 16, A.D. 2020 that it would re-open on Saturday, August 1, A.D. 2020. Before the M.S.I. re-opened to the public, it opened exclusively to Members from the 29th to the 31st of July.
With the M.S.I.’s Science and Home initiative, families can access hands-on science experiments, videos, and videogames. One can subscribe to receive Science at Home e-mails. In addition, the M.S.I. has new Learning Resources for educators and students.
The 2020-21 Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light festivals opened on Friday, November 13, A.D. 2020. The M.S.I. promises to bring the 78th annual Christmas Around the World and 26th annual Holidays of Light “celebrations to your home and screens, with traditions and cheer to brighten a most unusual year.” Click here for a Science at Home project whereby children can learn how to use aluminum foul and a string of Christmas tree lights to build an electric circuit to learn about what conducts electricity.
Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is a video depicting employees and volunteers preparing Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light festivals at the Museum of Science and Industry.
On Wednesday, October 7, A.D. 2020, the M.S.I. Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name Chevy Humphrey the next President & Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) of the M.S.I., effective in January of 2021. She is currently the Hazel A. Hare President & C.E.O. of the Arizona Science Center. Ms. Humphrey will succeed David Mosena, who announced in January he would retire in October after twenty-three years in office, though as of now he is going to see the year out at the M.S.I.
The public can stay abreast of further announcements via the M.S.I.’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds. The M.S.I. stated, “We look forward to welcoming guests back to MSI back as soon as the prevailing conditions allow.”
The Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History announced via its e-newsletter it would close Friday, November 20, A.D. 2020 through at least Friday, December 4, A.D. 2020. “Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Illinois and to comply with the city and state’s advisories, we will be temporarily closing… Our first priority is always the safety of our visitors and staff, and as a scientific institution, we are closely heeding the advice of medical and public health experts. We will remain in close contact with our local and state government to figure out a plan for safely reopening and continuing to share the world with Chicago.”
Back on Friday, March 13, A.D. 2020, The Field Museum announced that it would be closed starting Saturday, March 14, A.D. 2020 through Sunday, March 29, A.D. 2020. All scheduled programs were postponed. Subsequently, The Field Museum announced it was closed until further notice. All events that The Field Museum would have hosted were cancelled or postponed. The Field Museum re-opened to Members on Friday, July 17, A.D. 2020 and re-opened to the public on Friday, July 24, A.D. 2020. The 17th through the 21st of July were Member Days.
The public can follow The Field Museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to learn about its collections, research, and conservation efforts. The Field Museum also has online resources and at-home activities for people of all ages, including children.
John G. Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium announced on Tuesday, November 17, A.D. 2020 via its e-newsletter, “Due to city and statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts, Shedd Aquarium will voluntarily re-close to the public beginning today at 5 p.m. in continued responsibility and commitment to the safety and health of people, animals and the community. The aquarium will temporarily close for six weeks with a target re-opening date of Saturday, Jan. 2.”
The Shedd Aquarium released a similar message via Linked-In that it would close on Wednesday, November 18, A.D. 2020 and remain closed until Saturday, January 2, A.D. 2021. “To align with city and statewide COVID-19 mitigation effort[s], Shedd Aquarium is voluntarily closing our doors again… in continued responsibility and commitment to the safety and health of people and animals in our community.”
The Shedd Aquarium closed in mid-March. It re-opened to Shedd Aquarium Members on Wednesday, July 1, A.D. 2020 and to the public on Friday, July 3, A.D. 2020.
Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
The Adler Planetarium announced on March 13, A.D. 2020, it would close indefinitely starting on Saturday, March 14, A.D. 2020. It never re-opened, so it does not have to re-close. Earlier this year, the Adler Planetarium was able to share the good news it was able to re-acquire its original planetarium projector.
Click here to donate $25, $50, $250, $500 or another sum of one’s own choosing to the Adler Planetarium. They welcome both one-time donations and monthly donations.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago (A.I.C.) located in Grant Park, re-opened on Thursday, July 30, A.D. 2020. On its Website, the A.I.C. announced, “Since reopening in late July, the Art Institute has warmly—and safely—welcomed visitors back to the galleries to experience firsthand the transformative power of art…However, due to the governor’s new directives for the sate of Illinois, the museum will immediately be closed to visitors.”
If one pre-purchased tickets in the period when the A.I.C. is closed, one will be refunded on the debit or credit card one used to make the purchase within ten business days. In the meantime, one can pay the A.I.C. a virtual visit. This includes the ability to explore the collection digitally, digital resources devoted to the exhibit El Greco Ambition and Defiance, read the Blog, peruse the A.I.C.’s Digital Publications, and access Educator Resources for teachers and homeschooling parents.
The Museum Shop online is operational, but its fulfillment center is experiencing delays. Many of the books published by or about The Art Institute of Chicago are also available for purchase from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
Chicago History Museum
The Chicago Historical Society (C.H.S.) closed the Chicago History Museum(C.H.M.), in the Chicago Park District’s Lincoln Park in the neighborhood of Lincoln Park on the North Side of Chicago,on Saturday, March 21, A.D. 2020, and it will remain closed through Sunday, May 31, A.D. 2020. [Gary T. Johnson, who has been President of the C.H.M. since 2005, also announced in March that he would be retiring at the end of the year.] Ultimately, the C.H.M. announced on Friday, July 10, A.D. 2020 that it would re-open that day and would be free through July 31st. The Museum was open Tuesdays through Saturdays and the Research Center was open Tuesdays through Fridays. The C.H.M. waited until late on Thursday, November 19, A.D. 2020 to announce it would be closed on Friday, November 20, A.D. 2020 “until further notice”. The exhibit Modern by Design: Chicago Designs America was extended through January of 2021.
In the meantime, the public can explore C.H.M. offerings via Google Arts & Culture, take a close look at select artifacts from the collection, peruse images from the C.H.M.’s research collection, see Chicago history illustrated through augmented reality and virtual reality, listen to interviews with historian and broadcaster Studs Terkel (1912-2008), engage with classroom resources, read The Encyclopedia of Chicago, and search the holdings of the Chicago Collections Consortium. [Click here to purchase a print copy of The Encyclopedia of Chicago via Amazin.com, click here to purchase it from Barnes & Noble, and click here to purchase it directly from The University of Chicago Press.] If one has an account, one can also conduct research via ProQuest. Click here to subscribe for “Chicago History at Home.”
The C.H.M. is accepting submissions for In This Together. This is “a community-based initiative to collect digital records that document personal experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the C.H.M. stated. “We are all affected by this crisis in varying degrees, and diaries, journals, oral histories, images, recordings, and similar materials will help us tell stories of this unprecedented time in history. Personal accounts provide depth and context for what an event or era was like for the everyday people experiencing it. Gathering this type of information about the COVID-19 pandemic in the Chicago area will be important for people [in the future] to understand this period of our history.”
Click here to submit digital images, audio files, or video files. To contribute a physical item, click here to access the Collection Donation form, fill it out, and submit it. Selected submissions will be displayed online here.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
The Chicago Academy of Sciences (C.A.S.) in Lincoln Park closed the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum “until further notice” and never re-opened, so it does not have to re-close. The staff is working remotely.
Museum of Contemporary Arts Chicago
The Museum of Contemporary Arts Chicago (M.C.A. Chicago), located between Senecaa Park to the west and Lake Shore Park to the east. in the neighborhood of Streeterville, on the North Side of Chicago, is, of course, also temporarily closed. They anticipate being closed for two weeks and plan to re-open on Friday, December 4, A.D. 2020. In an open letter on its Website, Madeleine Grynsztejn, the Pritzker Director of the M.C.A. Chicago, wrote, in part, “We want to first thank you for virtually visiting while we were closed. This time had afforded us the opportunity to stretch ourselves creatively and create a new program of online talks, studio visits, and virtual galleries. That programming will continue in our new world—visit our Commons Online weekly to engage, explore, learn, and create at home.”
The Richard H. Driehaus Museum
The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, which is located in Erie Street in the Cathedral District west of the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue, is closed. It is offering virtual programs. If one purchased tickets for the period while it is closed, one will receive a refund within five days.
The American Writers Museum
The American Writers Museum, located on Michigan Avenue, is closed. It re-opened in July. The public can continue to engage with the American Writers Museum by subscribing to the A.W.M. YouTube Channel, taking a virtual tour of the exhibits with A.W.M. President Carey Cranston, visiting the virtual exhibit My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today, watching A.W.M. Author Talk webinars, watching Little Squirrels Storytime videos with your kids, and checking out A.W.M. Reading Recommendations. The A.W.M. also encourages aspiring writers to take this time to finish books they started, and provides writing motivation and inspiration. Click here to make a donation.
A new exhibit, Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable, is set to open at the A.W.M. early next year. The A.W.M. already has a typewriter that belonged to science fiction/fantasy novelist and screenwriter Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) in the exhibit Tools of the Trade.
Initially, The DuSable Museum of African American History, which is located in the Chicago Park District’s Washington Park on the South Side of Chicago, was supposed to be closed through Friday, May 15, A.D. 2020. However, it never re-opened and so will not have to re-close. In February of 2021, this institution will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its foundation.
Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Greek Museums
On the West Side of Chicago,there are three smaller museums dedicated to Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Greek history, arts, and culture, which are closed. The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture in the Chicago Park District’s Humboldt Park is closed until further notice. The National Museum of Mexican Art in the Chicago Park District’s Harrison Park in Pilsenclosed in March, and never re-opened, so it does not have to re-close. The National Hellenic Museum, located on South Halsted Street in Greektown, is closed. All programs are cancelled, including in-person Greek language programs. On Thursday, March 12, 2020, the National Hellenic Museum made the painful decision to cancel Greek Independence Day celebrations on Saturday, March 28, A.D. 2020. At that time, they chose to close from Friday, March 13, A.D. 2020 through Wednesday, March 18, A.D. 2020. Subsequently, on Tuesday, March 16, A.D. 2020, the National Hellenic Museum announced it would remain closed. It never re-opened, so it will not have to re-close.
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 Streeterville is the neighborhood between the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue and the lakeshore.
 The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture is housed in the former Humboldt Park Stables & Receptory in Chicago Park District’s Humboldt Parkin Humboldt Park (Community Area #23) on the West Side of Chicago.
 The National Museum of Mexican Art (formerly the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum) is located in the Chicago Park District’s Harrison Park in the Pilsenneighborhood is within Lower West Side (Community Area #31) on the West Side of Chicago.
 The National Hellenic Museum (formerly the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center) is located in Greektown, a neighborhood in the Near West Side (Community Area #28) on the West Side of Chicago.