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Philly Family’s 2021 Reopening Guide

Let’s try this again!

It’s a new year, and while the pandemic is still very much happening, we are looking forward to new experiences and the reopening of some of our favorite spots! Here’s what’s planned as restrictions in Philly lift this week, and what to expect. Be sure to check back as we’ll add newly reopened places as they come!

Remember to mask up and maintain social distance if you choose to visit any of these attractions. And of course, if you are feeling sick, stay home! It’s great that things are reopening, but let’s all work together to keep them that way!

Academy of Natural Sciences

1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Reopens: January 8

Hours: Fridays—Sundays, 11 am—5 pm (opens at 10 am for members)

Reservations needed: Highly recommended, as capacity is limited. Timed tickets are available online for members and non-members. A limited number of tickets may be purchased at the door, however, time slots are still required and you may have to wait until a slot is available to enter the museum.

Masks: Yes; face coverings are required for staff and visitors, ages 3 and up.

More information: The Academy reopens with a brand new exhibit: “Permian Monsters: Life Before Dinosaurs.” With art, fossils, and accurate models, you can step back 290 million years to when bizarre-looking creatures dominated life on land and sea, and dinosaurs had not yet evolved. This special exhibit is included with general admission.

Also, when you visit the Academy, grab a brand new, free self-guided tour to take a closer look at Dinosaur Hall, North American Hall, and African and Asian Halls.

Some high-touch exhibits are currently closed: Outside In, Butterflies, and The Big Dig. To cut down on crowds, live animals will not be brought out for personal encounters for now. Dinosaur Hall is open, aside from the Big Dig fossil area upstairs.

Franklin Institute

222 N. 20th St.

Reopens: January 6

Hours: Wednesdays—Sundays, 10 am—5 pm (6 pm on weekends)

Reservations needed: Yes; advance tickets are required for all guests, including members. There are no fees for online reservations.

Masks: Yes; face coverings and no-touch temperature checks are required for staff and visitors, ages 3 and up.

More information: The museum reopens to a reduced-capacity crowd, and with a brand new pop-up exhibit: “Now/Next: Artificial Intelligence.” From robots to facial recognition—see the latest advancements in AI technologies and their impact on everyday life. Plus, little ones will love to visit the Creation Station (newly added this summer) to relax and recharge with mega building blocks, foam Imagination Playground blocks, and more.

Opening February 13, “Crayola IDEAworks: The Creativity Exhibition” brings activities that will stimulate the senses while empowering creativity and imagination.

Masks and no-touch temperature checks are required for visitors ages 3 and up. Social distancing markers and hand sanitizer stations appear throughout the museum. Certain high-touch exhibits are currently closed, including SportZone, Franklin Air Show, the observatory, and the IMAX theater. The cafeteria is open for takeout only– guests can eat outside in the yard at picnic tables.

The Barnes Foundation

2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Reopens: January 8

Hours: Fridays—Mondays, 11 am – 5 pm

Reservations needed: No, but online reservations are encouraged to facilitate contactless ticketing and payment. Tickets are timed to ensure social distancing.

Masks: Yes; staff and visitors will be required to wear a mask and visit a safety checkpoint before entering the building.

More information: The special exhibit “Elijah Pierce’s America” has been extended through January 18. Guided tours will be limited, but visitors are encouraged to enjoy the Art Team’s pop-up talks and use Barnes Focus—the museum’s free mobile guide to the galleries—during their visit on their personal phones.

Visitor capacity is limited, and a one-way flow through the galleries is in place to cut down on crowding.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Reopens: January 8

Hours: Fridays—Mondays, 10 am – 5 pm

Reservations needed: No, but the museum will be reducing capacity with timed tickets, so reservations are strongly recommended. A limited number of timed tickets will be available for each half-hour time slot, up to two weeks out.

Masks: Yes; face masks must be worn by all visitors older than the age of 2.

More information: Enter at the North Entrance only– the entrance via the Rocky steps is closed. Before you enter the museum, a staff member will take your temperature with a touchless device. Masks are required at all times. Social-distancing markers will be in place at the visitor entrance and elsewhere in the museum. Hand sanitizer units will be available throughout the building, and enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces will be in effect throughout the day. You can purchase to-go snacks at the Espresso Bar, but no seating will be available for indoor dining. The Museum Shop is open with limited capacity.

The Perelman Building will remain closed through 2021. The Rodin Museum will also remain closed until further notice. Public programs—such as evening performances, school visits, and family festivals—are also on hold, though the museum is continuing its virtual offerings such as weekly playdates on Fridays.

National Liberty Museum

321 Chestnut St.

Reopens: January 8

Hours: Fridays—Sundays, 10 am – 5 pm

Reservations needed: No, but online reservations are strongly encouraged. Tickets are timed for the top of each hour to ensure social distancing. If you arrive early, you may be asked to wait. If a particular time-slot is filled, you will need to choose another hour.

Masks: Yes; all guests over the age of 2 are required to wear face masks.

More information: Visitor capacity is limited, and a one-way flow through the galleries is in place to cut down on crowding. Through more than 75 works of art, from more than 50 local artists, “Philly’s Freedom” invites viewers on a journey to explore what freedom means and how ordinary citizens play a role in protecting our freedom and liberty. From voting to protest and beyond, the works are accompanied by various questions challenging viewers’ own ideas of liberty. 

Museum of the American Revolution

101 S. Third St.

Reopens: January 8

Hours: Fridays—Sundays, 10 am—5 pm

Reservations needed: Advance reservations are strongly recommended for all visitors, including Members, to limit capacity and comply with social distancing requirements. Tickets are timed and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Masks: Yes; staff and visitors over the age of 5 will be required to wear a face covering.

More information: Social distancing of at least six feet between groups will be enforced. The Revolution Place kids’ discovery center, as well as Battlefield Theater, will remain closed to the public until they can safely reopen. Cross Keys Café will remain closed until further notice.

In addition to their regular hours, the museum will also be open for Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 18) and Presidents Day (February 15).

Penn Museum

3260 South St.

Reopens: January 8

Hours: Tuesdays—Sundays, 10 am—5 pm

Reservations needed: No, but due to limited capacity, advance online reservations are strongly encouraged (and you’ll get a $2 discount for booking online).

Masks: Yes; face coverings and symptom checking are required for all staff and visitors ages 2 and up.

More information: To allow people to enjoy the museum at reduced capacity, tickets are for two-hour time slots. Visitors are asked to maintain at least a six-foot distance from anyone not in their group, and to follow a one-way route through the galleries indicated by the arrows on the floor. The Museum Café is currently closed, and water fountains are unavailable for hygiene reasons; visitors are welcome to bring their own bottled water, but no other food or drink.

Activities and festivals will continue virtually, including this month’s Culturefest to gear up for Lunar New Year!

PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts)

118-128 N Broad St.

Reopens: January 21

Hours: Thursdays and Fridays, 10 am—4 pm; Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am—5 pm

Reservations needed: No, but they are recommended because of reduced capacity. Cash will not be permitted for on-site transactions.

Masks: Yes; face masks must be worn by all visitors older than the age of 2.

More information: Temperature checks will be required before entry, and capacity will be reduced to allow for social distancing. World-premiere exhibitions on view at reopening will be: Taking SpaceOnly Tony, and Roll, Press, Pull.


27 N. 11th Street (located at Fashion District Philadelphia)

Reopens: January 22

Hours: Wednesdays – Saturdays, noon—8 pm; Sundays, noon—6 pm

Reservations needed: Yes; timed tickets available online. Capacity is limited to ensure social distancing.

Masks: Yes; all visitors and team members are required to wear a face-covering at all times. Those who do not have their own will be provided with one at reception.

More information: This inspiring space is filled with interactive art installations, including favorites like “Submergence” by Squidsoup (a giant room of over 8,000 stringed lights that are programmed to the soundscape) and “Body Paint” by Memo Akten, where your movements are interpreted by sensors to create “paint” streaks of different colors on a giant wall. As Wonderspaces intends to have rotating exhibits, you’ll find three new interactive installations there, including a new VR experience! Hand sanitizer is located throughout the space, and the bar and gift shop are currently closed.

National Constitution Center

525 Arch St.

Reopens: February 12

Hours: Fridays–Sundays, 10 am–3 pm

Reservations needed: Yes. If you do not reserve in advance, you will be required to complete your transaction online on your personal device before entry.

Masks: Yes; all visitors age 2 and over visiting any part of the building are required to wear a mask. If you don’t have one, a limited supply of free disposable face masks will be available for guests upon entry.

More information: The NCC will reopen on February 12, just in time for Presidents Day weekend. While it will be open on weekends only, it will remain open on Monday, February 15 in honor of the holiday.

Floor decals that determine spacing will be placed throughout the building to assist guests with social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations have been placed throughout the building, and some experiences will be temporarily unavailable because of their interactive nature or capacity concerns. The museum will ask guests to complete a health questionnaire before entry. While the museum shop will be open, the cafe and Starbucks will remain closed due to safety measures.

Photographs by Laura Swartz.

Contributing Writer