Chicago Museums Close Over Coronavirus Outbreak

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Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry and Adler Planetarium will all be closed to the public over the coronavirus outbreak, the institutions announced Friday.

The Shedd Aquarium will remain closed until March 29 and will "continue to assess and monitor updates daily from health officials," the aquarium said in a statement. All scheduled events and programs were also canceled but may be rescheduled in the future, according to the Shedd.

“We have a responsibility to communities, schoolchildren, staff, volunteers and more to do our part to help protect the public’s health by temporarily supporting the effort for social distancing,” Dr. Bridget Coughlin, the president and CEO of Shedd, said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the aquarium soon to continue to spark compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world.”

Illinois has seven new confirmed cases of coronavirus, health officials announced Thursday, bringing the state's total to 32. NBC 5's Patrick Fazio has the details.

Critical operations staff like caretakes and veterinarians will continue working onsite to provide vital care to the animals and infrastructure, the Shedd said, while employees who can work from home will do so, and those who cannot work from home will continue to be paid their regular rate.

The Museum of Science and Industry announced that it will be closed beginning Saturday through April 6, planning to reopen April 7 but will continue to monitor the outbreak.

"As an institution rooted in science, we are proactively taking this step based upon the facts," MSI's President and CEO David Mosena said in a statement. "While we have no known cases connected to MSI, we are closing to minimize the spread of this virus and to help ensure the safety and health of our students, guests, employees and their families. While we know that this decision will pose challenges to our community, the available data indicate that taking early and decisive steps to reduce group interactions is critical to controlling the spread of the virus."

All events and programs, both public and private, in this time period at MSI are postponed or canceled as well, the institution said. The museum has also created provisions to support hourly and salaried staff during the closure, including health benefits, the statement said.

The Adler Planetarium will be closed indefinitely beginning Saturday, the institution said in a statement. All events at Adler thorugh May 1 will be rescheduled or canceled.

"There have not been any reported cases of infection or exposure at the planetarium. However, as a scientific institution and trusted community space, we are compelled to follow the science and best practices for social distancing as outlined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), City of Chicago, and the Illinois Department of Public Health," the Adler said.

The Chicago Children's Museum will temporarily close to the public through the end of March, according to a news release.

“While our immediate community of visitors is generally low risk, we are electing to close out of an abundance of caution and to do our part in the social distancing to prevent the further spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19),”  said Chicago Children's Museum President and CEO Jennifer Farrington.

Following recommendations from elected leaders, the Field Museum announced Friday it will be closed Saturday through March 29. The museum will compensate its hourly and salaried staff during the affected time period, according to a note on its Facebook page.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum will close for 30 days starting at 5 p.m. Friday until Monday, April 13, according to a press release. All programs, school and group visits and events will be postponed while the closure is in effect.

Starting on Saturday, March 14, the Art Institute of Chicago will be closed for two weeks, according to a news release sent out Friday afternoon. The Art Institute plans to reopen on Saturday, March 28.

"We are a civic institution dedicated to serving the city of Chicago and our broader community," Art Institute officials said in a news release. "We are confident that we can meet the rigorous health and safety standards we are setting for ourselves in anticipation of our reopening."

The DuSable Museum of African American History will remain closed through March 31, 2020. Current ticketholders for our new virtual reality exhibit “The March” will be able to re-book their experience for a later date, museum officials stated.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago announced Friday it will be closed through March 29 in support of the city's efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum will be closed starting Saturday, March 14 through Sunday, March 29. In addition, the museum has decided to stop its programming through April 30.

The Chicago Architecture Center closed Friday evening and isn't expected to reopen until 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 21. All previously scheduled walking tours, including building tours, are cancelled through Tuesday, March 31, according to the CAC.

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