Chicago’s museums have shut down twice now due to the coronavirus pandemic, bleeding revenue as they closed their doors to visitors in the spring before reopening with drastically reduced capacity in the summer and locking up again as COVID-19 cases spiked in the fall.

As a unique class of museum, the city’s zoos and aquariums have suffered along with their arts and culture counterparts, with one significant difference. 

For institutions with “living collections,” the term “shutdown” is something of a misnomer. The thousands of animals at places like Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo, as well as the fish and mammals at the Shedd Aquarium, need to be fed and cared for, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of what’s going on in the human population.

Which means employee furloughs and budget tightening can only cut so deep.  Read more…

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