Chicago’s Field Museum reopens to the public this month, welcoming members beginning July 17 and on July 24, the public will be welcomed back. The museum has been closed for four months due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
The Field Museum is Chicago’s home for natural history, research, and best of all, dinosaurs. Already open is the Shedd Aquarium, which reopened on July 3, but the Adler Planetarium remains closed.
The Field Museum Reopens with a Native American Exhibit
The Field Museum is celebrating the reopening with its new “Apsáalooke Women and Warriors” exhibition; the exhibition first opened a day before the museum was forced to close in March. Celebrated as the museum’s first major exhibition curated by Native American scholar and Apsáalooke tribal member, Nina Sanders. The exhibit focuses on the values, history, and beliefs of the Northern Plains Apsáalooke people, also known as the Crow.
Inside the vast museum, most exhibits are open, said chief marketing officer Ray DeThorne. That includes the Grainger Hall of Gems, the popular Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit, and the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet. And of course, everyone’s favorite dinosaur, Sue the T. Rex is up in the new and dramatic second-floor gallery.
Changes Throughout the Museum
For example, once there was a way you could have Sue breathe on you, so you could smell the dinosaur’s breath. But because of its interactive nature, Sue’s breath will remain turned off for now.
So will the museum’s touch screens and other interactive features.
Foot traffic will be controlled with arrows on the floor, entries, and exits will be marked, and capacities will be reduced.
There will be additional social distancing enforced in the Grainger Hall of Gems, since people like to get close to the gemstones.
The Pawnee Earth Lodge will remain off-limits, since it’s made of natural materials like dirt, and can’t be cleaned and sanitized. Finally, the Crown Family PlayLab will remain closed.
State of Illinois Phase 4 Guidelines for Museums
The recent reopening announcement further detailed the Field Museum’s precautions and protocols for visitors, under the State of Illinois Phase 4 guidelines for museums:
- The Field Museum will only be open five days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm, Thursday through Monday. It will eventually reopen seven days a week. Total attendance at the museum is limited to 25% of the normal capacity.
- Visitors are advised to buy tickets in advance at www.fieldmuseum.org. A limited number of tickets also will be available at the door. Ticket prices are $17-$40, but all-access passes purchased online are $3 off. Memberships have a 15% discount.
- During July 24-Aug. 9, Illinois teachers, health-care workers, and first responders will receive free admission, but their families must pay Chicago admission prices. There are no Illinois state free admission days for the rest of 2020.
- Entries will be timed on the half-hour, with a limit of 3,750 visitors per day; that’s down from a normal 15,000-person maximum. Groups will be limited to 10 or less.
- Masks are required for staff and all visitors over the age of 2.
- Once visitors are inside, floor arrows and other signs will enforce social distancing, and some areas and exhibits will be one-way.
- Hand-sanitizing stations are available throughout the museum.
- The Field Museum is following CDC guidelines for frequent cleaning and sanitizing, both throughout the day and overnight.
- Visitors can only enter through the East entrance, which is the furthest away from Lake Shore Drive. However, visitors can exit the museum through the East, North, or South exits.
- The museum’s 3-D movies will show three screenings per day, with sanitizing between shows. Also, tickets are limited to 135 for a theater that seats 700.
In 2019, the Field Museum was the third best-attended indoor Chicago museum, with around 1.5 million visitors. The Field Museum only lags behind the Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute, which remains closed.
After suffering layoffs in early June, the Field Museum’s staff are at a minimum. Hopefully, despite the drastically reduced capacity, the mandatory masks, and the social distancing requirements, ticket sales will help the museum to financially break even.
Since the Shedd Aquarium opened, it’s been noted that visitors are coming early in the day. Furthermore, they are avoiding on-site restaurants. But the good news is, they’ve been coming, and the numbers are encouraging.