Philly museums begin reopening after city eases COVID-19 restrictions

The Rocky statue is outfitted with a mock surgical face mask

In this April 14, 2020, file photo the Rocky statue is outfitted with a mock surgical face mask at the Philadelphia Art Museum in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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Cultural institutions in Philadelphia are slowly beginning to reopen after certain citywide coronavirus mitigation efforts were lifted.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Barnes Foundation, The Franklin Institute, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art all plan to reopen in January.

Other cultural institutions have opted for later returns, with the Eastern State Penitentiary set to reopen in March and the Rodin Museum slated for a yet-to-be-announced date later this spring.

“With the advent of a new year, we are grateful for the opportunity to welcome our visitors once again,” read a joint statement from the cultural institutions’ leaders. “Despite the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resilience of the cultural sector shines through.”

The group pointed to cultural experiences as “essential to the well-being of the human spirit,” adding that the role of Philly’s museums and cultural organizations “will be a critical one in the region’s recovery.”

Museums were forced to temporarily shut down in November amid the city’s rising coronavirus cases. Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration indicated in late December that museums could resume operations as early as Jan. 4.

The Philadelphia Department of Health on Monday announced 1,576 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the citywide total to 93,322 cases. The city reported an additional 37 fatalities, raising the total number of COVID-related deaths to 2,486.

As with other businesses and services in the COVID era, the museum plans and reopening dates are subject to change based on city and state coronavirus guidance.

Reopening dates & further information

The Franklin Institute

  • Public opening: Wednesday, Jan. 6, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • World-premiere exhibition, Crayola IDEAworks: The Creativity Exhibition, opens Feb. 13.
  • Hours: Wednesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; closed: Mondays and Tuesdays, with the exception of Monday, Jan. 18, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

  • Public opening: Friday, Jan. 8, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs opens Jan. 8
  • Hours: Fridays – Sundays, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., with members-only hours from 10 –11 a.m. each day
  • Monday, Jan. 18, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., with members-only hours from 10 – 11  a.m.

The Barnes Foundation

  • Public opening: Friday, Jan. 8, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 9 – Monday, Jan. 11, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 14, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. (additional open day)
  • Friday, Jan. 15 & Saturday, Jan. 16, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (extended hours)
  • Sunday, Jan. 17 & Monday, Jan. 18, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Regular open hours: Fridays – Mondays, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., (10 –11 a.m. members-only hour)
  • Elijah Pierce’s America (extended through Jan. 18, 2021)

Philadelphia Museum of Art

  • Public opening: Friday, Jan. 8, 10 a.m. – 8:45 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 9 – Monday, Jan. 11, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Friday, Jan. 15, 10 a.m. – 8:45 p.m. (pay-what-you-wish)
  • Rodin Museum – Spring reopening to be announced at later date

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

  • Public opening: Thursday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Hours: Thursday – Friday, 10 a.m – 4 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed: Mondays through Wednesdays
  • World-premiere exhibitions: Taking Space, Only Tony, and Roll, Press, Pull

Eastern State Penitentiary

  • Public opening: March 2021

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