Academy Reopens July 31

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will reopen on Friday, July 31, with the return of the popular Survival of the Slowest exhibit and protocols in place to ensure the health, safety and enjoyment of visitors and staff.

The museum’s new hours, for the time being, are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a members-only hour from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day. There will be members-only days on Friday, July 24, Saturday, July 25, and Sunday, July 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

admissions desk
Plexiglass partitions allow visitors and staff to social distance.

Survival of the Slowest, put on hold when the museum closed March 14 due to COVID-19, was extended and now will be on view through Sunday, Oct. 25. Lulu, the two-toed sloth that captivated visitors and viewers of social media when she appeared wrapped in a blanket in the arms of her keeper, has grown to 17 inches from nose to rump and marked her first birthday on May 7. She will join a dozen other slow-moving animals in the show for the July 24 member opening.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year, whose March 29 opening was postponed, now will open on Saturday, Sept. 5 and be on view through Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. Developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London, WPY is one of the world’s longest running and most prestigious photography competitions. The exhibit features 100 winning images that relate thought-provoking stories about the natural world and the future we want to create.

In order to limit the number of visitors in the building at any one time to 25% capacity and to limit personal contact at check-in, admission will be by timed-ticket sold online in advance. Time slots will be at the top of the hour — 11 a.m., noon and so on, with the last ticket of the day issued for 4 p.m. A number of tickets will be available at the door, but visitors may have to wait for a time slot to become available.

Full details on purchasing tickets and other admissions issues are available at

As the Academy continues to follow guidance from the state and city, plans and opening dates are subject to change.

Currently, these exhibits will not open at the same time as the rest of the museum because of their high-touch experiences: Outside In, Butterflies! and The Big Dig. The Academy Café and Academy Shop will open at later dates. Camp and school groups will not be permitted at this time.

Visitors age 3 and older and staff will be required to wear face coverings to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, and groups must maintain a social distance of 6 feet apart. Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the museum, and plexiglass partitions have been installed in the admissions areas.

Strenuous high-grade cleaning and sanitizing will take place throughout the museum at regular intervals throughout each day.

“The safety of our guests and our staff is paramount,” said Academy President and CEO Scott Cooper.

“We are deeply committed to enforcing every precaution and protocol for as long as necessary to keep everyone feeling safe and secure. After months of planning, we are confident our guests will feel comfortable and at ease from the time they enter the building to the time they leave.”

Lulu has grown since you last saw her in Survival of the Slowest. She’s also grown attached to animal keeper Nicole Morgan.

The Academy began planning for its reopening shortly after it closed. The museum formed a multi-departmental team, surveyed its audience, and consulted with national museum organizations, as well as fellow museums around the world, across the nation and in Philadelphia.

Staff developed comprehensive guidelines and step-by-step procedures for visitors and staff based on the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and Drexel University.

“We are ready, and we can’t wait to welcome our visitors back!” Cooper said.

By Carolyn Belardo

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