Field Mu­seum re­open­ing next week with masks, cap on at­ten­dance

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY STE­FANO ES­POS­ITO, STAFF RE­PORTER ses­pos­ito@sun­times.com | @sle­spos­ito

Af­ter four tur­bu­lent months that in­cluded the loss of 71 jobs, the Field Mu­seum is set to re­open July 17 af­ter the coronaviru­s shut­down.

But don’t ex­pect big crowds. The mu­seum plans to cap daily at­ten­dance at one-fourth of ca­pac­ity, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day. Masks will be manda­tory, and mark­ers on the floor will help peo­ple with so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

The mu­seum will open to mem­bers only be­gin­ning July 17, then to the gen­eral pub­lic July 24.

“The Field Mu­seum’s mis­sion is to build a brighter fu­ture rich in na­ture and cul­ture, and we’ve spent the past few months fig­ur­ing out how we can con­tinue to share the world with our vis­i­tors while keep­ing ev­ery­one safe,” Ray DeThorne, a mu­seum spokesman, said in a state­ment. “Peo­ple haven’t been able to get out and travel lately, but when you come to the mu­seum, you can ex­plore an­cient Egypt, watch a tra­di­tional Chi­nese shadow pup­pet show, stand un­der­neath the world’s largest di­nosaur, and come face to face with the world’s best­p­re­served T. rex. These are the kinds of ex­pe­ri­ences you can’t get from home. And the mu­seum is so big, vis­i­tors can es­cape the sum­mer heat and ex­plore while still so­cial dis­tanc­ing.”

The mu­seum is en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to buy tick­ets on­line to re­duce lines at the door. The mu­seum will, at first, be open only five days a week, clos­ing on Tues­days and Wed­nes­days.

Last month, the Field’s de­part­ing pres­i­dent, Richard W. Lariv­iere, an­nounced in a let­ter to staff and sup­port­ers the elim­i­na­tion of 71 po­si­tions and the fur­lough­ing of a fur­ther 56 em­ploy­ees. At the time, Lariv­iere said that with­out the rev­enue from vis­i­tors and space rentals, among other things, the mu­seum faced a $20 mil­lion short­fall for 2020.

The re­open­ing comes as the Field gets set to wel­come a new pres­i­dent this year. Ju­lian Sig­gers, di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia Mu­seum of Arche­ol­ogy and An­thro­pol­ogy, takes the helm at Field in Septem­ber.

SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO

The Field Mu­seum is set to re­open this month, first to mem­bers only and then to the gen­eral pub­lic, af­ter a four-month clo­sure be­cause of the coronaviru­s. It will cap daily at­ten­dance at one-fourth ca­pac­ity.

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