ART RESTART

Chicago area mu­se­ums re­open to on­site vis­i­tors, with safety pro­to­cols firmly in place

Chicago Sun-Times - - WEEKEND PLUS - BY KYLE MACMIL­LAN Kyle MacMil­lan is a lo­cal free­lance writer.

After a fi­nan­cially dam­ag­ing four­month-plus clo­sure be­cause of safety re­stric­tions sur­round­ing the COVID-19 pan­demic, many mu­se­ums across Chicago have al­ready re­opened or are set to re­open in the next few weeks.

The Elmhurst Art Mu­seum un­shut­tered its doors on June 30, and the Chicago His­tory Mu­seum did the same on July 10. The Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art Chicago and Field Mu­seum will be­gin wel­com­ing the pub­lic on July 24, and the Art In­sti­tute of Chicago has cho­sen a restart date of July 30.

“We’ve all been wait­ing for this, and it’s ex­cit­ing to wel­come peo­ple back,” said Kati Mur­phy, the Art In­sti­tute’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of pub­lic af­fairs. “Hav­ing the first week free for Illi­nois res­i­dents, it re­ally feels like we’re rolling out the red car­pet for the peo­ple of Chicago and Illi­nois who have missed the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence cul­ture.”

The Art In­sti­tute sought to fol­low state and lo­cal coro­n­avirus guide­lines for re­open­ing and also up­hold its own vis­i­tor stan­dards. “We rec­og­nized,” Mur­phy said, “what we needed to do in­side the gal­leries, what we needed to do to train our staff, and July 30 be­came the date that be­came most realistic for us to be con­fi­dent in our abil­i­ties to give vis­i­tors what they ex­pect.”

Each in­sti­tu­tion reini­ti­at­ing on-site op­er­a­tions has adopted a set of pro­to­cols to keep vis­i­tors and staff as safe as pos­si­ble. These in­clude sup­ple­men­tary clean­ing, aug­mented con­tact­less in­ter­ac­tion, ad­di­tional spac­ing and one-way path­ways and clo­sures of small and con­stricted gal­leries.

“As a sci­en­tific in­sti­tu­tion,” said Ja­cob Shuler, the Field Mu­seum’s guest re­la­tions man­ager, “we’ve been fol­low­ing the stud­ies and ad­vice of med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als since we closed in March and as we started to draw up the plans for what we thought a safe re­open­ing might look like.”

At the same time, each mu­seum has to be ready to re­spond as guide­lines change or an in-house out­break of COVID-19 is dis­cov­ered. “Un­for­tu­nately, that’s part of the re­al­ity of right now,” said John McK­in­non, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Elmhurst

Art Mu­seum.

Here are some high­lights of ex­hi­bi­tions that are or soon will be on view as mu­se­ums restart, and a look what has been post­poned:

Re­open­ing ex­hi­bi­tions:

♦ Ex­tended through Oct. 19, “El Greco: Am­bi­tion and De­fi­ance” (orig­i­nally sched­uled March 7-June 21), Art In­sti­tute. The first major ex­hi­bi­tion in 15 years de­voted to the famed 16th-cen­tury painter, it con­tains 55 works, in­clud­ing the “The As­sump­tion of the Vir­gin” (1577-79). The show will look as it did prior to clos­ing, but there is no longer a sup­ple­men­tary charge to see it and re­stric­tions have been placed on how many peo­ple can be in the gal­leries at any one time.

♦ Ex­tended likely through Sum­mer 2021, “Ap­sáaooke Women and War­riors,” (orig­i­nally sched­uled March 13, 2020-April 4, 2021), Field Mu­seum. The in­sti­tu­tion’s first major ex­hi­bi­tion cu­rated by a Na­tive scholar, it fo­cuses on the art and cul­ture of the Ap­sáaooke or Crow Tribe. The show was on view just one day be­fore the mu­seum was forced to close be­cause of coro­n­avirus re­stric­tions. The re-opened of­fer­ing will be pre­sented with vir­tu­ally no al­ter­ations, be­cause the mu­seum’s spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tions were al­ready ar­ranged with am­ple vis­i­tor flow and spac­ing.

♦ Ex­tended through Jan. 3, 2021, “Mod­ern by De­sign: Chicago Stream­lines Amer­ica” (orig­i­nally sched­uled Oct. 27, 2018-Dec. 2, 2019), Chicago His­tory Mu­seum. This show fea­tures nearly 300 ob­jects from the 1930s through ’50s that high­light Chicago in­dus­try’s role in pop­u­lar­iz­ing the stream­lined look. The show was first trun­cated be­cause of a pipe burst and was cut off again with the COVID-19 shut­down. “We thought we would just keep it up,” said John Rus­sick, the mu­seum’s a crowd-pleas ma­te­rial.”

New ex­hi­bi­tions

♦ July 24- Nov. 7, “Just Con­nect,” Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art. Mu­a­te­ri­als seum press ma­te­ri­als de­scribe it “a ex­hi­bi­tion on how the pan­demic has made us more aware of our de­sire to con­nect, and how we de­pend on our com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies for a sense of be­long­ing.” The show fea­tures pop­u­lar and rarely seen works from the MCA col­lec­tion by such artists as Ma­rina Abramovic, Jenny Holzer, Kerry James Marshall, Francesca Wood­man an d Akram Zaatari.

♦ Sept. 8-Nov. 22, “Art in the Post,” Elmhurst Art Mu­seum. The art mu­seum is so­lic­it­ing su­ub­mis­sions of post­cards

or index cards dec­o­rated with text and im­ages that re­spond in some way to the coro­n­avirus quar­an­tine and more re­cent events like the Black Lives Mat­ter protests. Sub­mis­sions from peo­ple of any age are due Aug. 30, and they will be dis­played in the mu­seum’s Hostetler Gallery.

Post­poned ex­hi­bi­tion

♦ Sept. 3-Jan. 18, 2021, “Monet and Chicago” (orig­i­nally sched­uled May 10Sept. 7), Art In­sti­tute. Al­though de­layed, this show, which looks at the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the famed French Im­pres­sion­ist and Chicago art col­lec­tors, oth­er­wise will pro­ceed as orig­i­nally planned. Be­cause most of the out­side works are from lo­cal col­lec­tions, Mur­phy said, ex­tend­ing those loans was con­sid­er­ably eas­ier than if they were com­ing from afar. To al­low for proper so­cial dis­tanc­ing, the show’s orig­i­nal lay­out in Re­gen­stein Hall has been ex­panded, and par­ti­tion walls and benches re­moved.

Fu­ture un­known

♦ “Juras­sic Oceans” (orig­i­nally sched­uled June 12-Jan. 3, 2021), Field Mu­seum. The ex­hi­bi­tion of pre­his­toric marine preda­tors, or­ga­nized by the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum in Lon­don, was to have come to Chicago after be­ing on view in Bahrain, but the pan­demic has thrown ship­ping and sched­ul­ing into chaos. “We’re still work­ing with the re­stric­tions in Lon­don where the show is com­ing from to de­cide if there is a good plan to move for­ward,” Shuler said. “But at this point, we will just up­date the pub­lic when we know more.”

FRANCESCA WOOD­MAN, “IT MUST BE TIME FOR LUNCH NOW, NEW YORK, 1979,” 1979. COL­LEC­TION MU­SEUM OF CON­TEM­PO­RARY ART CHICAGO, © 1979 FRANCESCA WOOD­MAN. COPY­RIGHT AND COUR­TESY CHARLES WOOD­MAN/ES­TATE OF FRANCESCA WOOD­MAN. PHOTO: NATHAN KEAY, © MCA CHICAGO

MCA COL­LEC­TION. NATHAN KEAY/© MCA CHICAGO

Hol­lis Sigler’s “She Wants To Be­long To The Sky, Again” (1981) is fea­tured in the timely “Just Con­nect” ex­hibit, fo­cus­ing on our de­sire to con­nect dur­ing the pan­demic, at the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art Chicago.

Ben Pease’s “Sa­cred Un­der the Cliff of Yel­low­stone” is fea­tured in “Ap­sáaooke Women and War­riors” at the Field Mu­seum.

THE ART IN­STI­TUTE OF CHICAGO, POT­TER PALMER COL­LEC­TION

Claude Monet, “On the Bank of the Seine, Ben­necourt” (1868) is among the works in “Monet and Chicago,” now open­ing Sept. 3 at the Art In­sti­tute of Chicago.

COUR­TESY THE FIELD MU­SEUM

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