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As more Americans receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, an increasing number of museums are welcoming visitors. In Los Angeles, the Getty Villa, which features Roman and Greek antiquities, reopened in April, and the Getty Center art museum is expected to reopen in May. The Smithsonian will open six museums in Washington, D.C., on May 5 along with the National Zoo and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, a space and aviation museum in the Virginia suburbs.
Even in 2020, many museums remained open by closely following state, city and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Christine Anagnos, executive director of the Association of Art Museum Directors, estimates that 90 percent of its member institutions — from the esteemed Detroit Institute of Arts to the Portland Art Museum — have reopened, up from 65 percent in September 2020.
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Below are nine popular U.S. museums, along with their safety measures and star attractions. Each is limiting the number of visitors, providing plentiful hand sanitizer stations, and requiring masks and social distancing (they’ve also closed their checkrooms, so don’t bring anything you don’t want to carry). Check their websites before going — and be sure to follow CDC guidelines for safe travel.
American Museum of Natural History in New York City
What to expect: Tickets must be reserved online, and you’ll receive an entry time of between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Interactive displays are turned off to prevent touching. Additions include new air filters, temperature checks (visitors with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more cannot enter) and one-way traffic flows.
What to see: No visit is complete without viewing Lucy, a 3 million-year-old hominid, and the long-jawed, nearly complete T. rex skeleton discovered by museum fossil hunger Barnum Brown in 1908.
Admission fee: General admission tickets are $23 for adults, $18 for seniors.
Art Institute of Chicago
What to expect: The number of visitors is limited to 25 percent of normal capacity (staff will monitor the number of people who enter). The least busy times are between 3 and 5 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays; the museum has posted a chart showing peak times. Restaurants are closed, and you may need to reserve a spot in a virtual line at certain popular exhibits. Buy your tickets in advance online.
What to see: You’ll want to view iconic paintings such as “American Gothic” by Grant Wood and Edward Hopper’s much-parodied “Nighthawks,” but the most memorable masterpiece may be the large and lovely “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by the French post-Impressionist artist Georges Seurat.
Admission fee: $25 for adults and $19 for seniors (Illinois residents pay a reduced fee).
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
What to expect: Guests must buy tickets in advance online. Entry times occur every 20 minutes, starting at the top of each hour. If you’re hungry, the TRex Café sells prepackaged food and drinks and offers limited seating (water fountains have been turned off, so you might want to bring your own). The number of visitors is limited to 80 percent of normal capacity.