Brrr! Museums Across the Midwest Shutter as the Polar Vortex Drives Temperatures as Low as -51 Degrees

An unprecedented cold snap has forced many cultural institutions to close.

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate (2006) at Millennium Park in Chicago. Photo: Brian Kersey/Getty Images.
Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate (2006) at Millennium Park in Chicago. Photo: Brian Kersey/Getty Images.

Museums in cities across the Midwest of the United States closed Wednesday to brace for the punishing weather of the “polar vortex,” which is cutting temperatures as low as -51°F (-46°C), according to USA Today

In Chicago, where temperatures plummeted to -21°F (-16°C), all the city’s most prominent institutions—the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Field Museum, as well as the Hyde Park Art Center, the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, and the DePaul Art Museum—closed for the day because of the inclement weather. According to CBS Chicago, it’s so cold in the Windy City that the National Weather Service advised Chicagoans to “minimize talking” and “avoid taking deep breaths” to protect their lungs from severe weather.

It is much the across the rest of the region. In Indiana, the Newfields Campus, which houses the Indiana Museum of Art, also closed “due to the severe weather warning predicted for central Indiana,” according to its Twitter account. In Ohio, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Dayton Art Institute are also closed. Some areas in the northeastern region of the state are expected to experience wind chills of -40°F, according to News 5 ClevelandThe Detroit Institute of Arts and the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art are also closed

Most museums and other cultural institutions across the Midwest are expected to reopen on Thursday, when temperatures are expected to stabilize.


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