No crowds, no entrance fees, no joke. After months of pandemic-related closures, Chicago museums and art galleries are open—for real. Virtual exhibitions aside, visitors can now actually step inside these spaces without spending money or breaking CDC guidelines.

That means local venues are implementing new hours and capacity requirements to ensure safety and to maximize the viewing experience. In exchange, visitors must wear masks and make online reservations.

Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) celebrates its reopening with more work on view by Chicago artists and from Chicago collections than ever before. Among the installations is Deborah Stratman’s exhibition on her film “The Illinois Parables,” which features a re-creation of the WFMT radio studio with a selection of Studs Terkel’s interviews. Other exhibitions include the pandemic-focused “Just Connect” and “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” which showcases the creations of the British-Nigerian fashion designer.

“Throughout extraordinary moments in history, artists have always shown us the way forward with work that has the power to heal, connect, inspire, and ignite our creativity. Art museums are among the lowest-risk spaces to visit in the city, and the spacious design of the MCA offers wide-open public spaces to easily accommodate physical distancing while guests experience the art on view,” says MCA Director Madeleine Grynsztejn.

“We also encourage visitors to step outside to enjoy time for quiet contemplation in our terraced sculpture garden with some of the best views in the city overlooking Lake Michigan,” adds Grynsztejn.

Admission is free through the end of August. For details, visit

The Pritzker Military Museum and Library has an extensive collection of books, artifacts and programs focusing on the Citizen Soldier in the preservation of democracy. Admission is free for members and all visitors with active military ID, personnel with the Chicago police and fire departments, and children. For others, there is a $5 fee. Visit to learn more.

Chicago’s Weinberg/Newton Gallery is partnering with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for “If we do not now dare everything” (Sept. 11-Dec. 19). Curated by the gallery’s Co-Director Kasia Houlihan, the exhibition focuses on voting rights via the works of contemporary artists Jaclyn Conley, Mike Gibisser, Ariana Jacob, Ellen Rothenberg and Sanaz Sohrabi.

“We are honored to partner with the ACLU at this critical juncture in the history of our country as they fight against efforts to curtail our constitutional rights, and hope that the platform we offer can bring this issue to the attention of a wider public,” says gallery Executive Director David Weinberg. “At this moment, we are confronted with the urgency of enabling all citizens to express their freedom and shape the future of our country through the right to vote.”

To complement the exhibition, which separates reality from the rhetoric of America’s patriotic emblems, a public programming series organized in collaboration with the ACLU is offered throughout the show’s run.

Reserve free tickets by visiting

Image: Sanaz Sohrabi, Still from Notes on Seeing Double, 2018, video with sound featured in “If we do not now dare everything”


Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.