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Museums Reopening Across SoCal

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The COVID-19 pandemic has hit SoCal residents particularly hard for a little over a year. However, with the rise in vaccination rates and the continued practice of social distancing and hygienic practices, counties such as Los Angeles and Orange County have entered the orange tier in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Now, museums, amusement parks, aquariums and other attractions are able to open at 50% of normal capacity. 


One of the most highly anticipated museum reopenings has been the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Like many other attractions in LA, LACMA scheduled its opening for April 1. The museum requires purchasing tickets ahead of time due to the large number of visitors the museum usually caters to and the need to maintain adequate occupancy aligning with the orange tier of reopening. Ticket spots are released to LACMA museum members each Wednesday and nonmembers have access on Thursdays. There are no ticket sales on-site. Tickets for children, members and teens that are LA county residents are free. It is $21 dollars for students not from LA and $25 for all other adults. All prices can be found on the “Visit” section of the LACMA website. For those intending to visit, the museum is open along with the LACMA store with dining options; however, COVID-19 regulations for safety are in place. All patrons over the age of two must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth and must not come to the museum if showing any symptoms of the virus. In addition, they must maintain six feet of distance between those not in their party and follow the path laid out by the museum in order to avoid crowding. 

Bowers Museum:

For those that grew up near Santa Ana, Bowers Museum is a staple attraction that does not involve the traffic and time associated with more well-known museums in LA County. Like many other museums, Bowers shut its doors in mid-March, but reopened over a year later on March 27. The museum itself is rather small and currently houses only four exhibits which change from month to month, a fact that makes visiting Bowers exciting each time one does come. At the moment, the key exhibit is titled “Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic.” It is important to note that in order to visit this exhibit, there is a required purchase of a ticket designated for the specific exhibition. General admission tickets do not include the Disney exhibition. For COVID-19 limitations, visitors can expect what is required in many other places, such as the use of face masks that cover the mouth and nose by all patrons, social distancing of six feet with markers placed on the floor and temperature checks upon arrival where patrons with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above are not allowed to enter. In addition, Bowers museum has undertaken extra cleaning procedures, additions of plexiglass between staff and patrons and removed wheelchair rentals and benches. Overall, it is a good museum to visit for a relaxing day, but it is recommended to purchase tickets online since admission is so limited and they are only open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

California African American Museum:

Similar to Bowers, the California African American Museum (CAAM) opened on March 27. The museum, located just south of downtown Los Angeles, has several beautiful exhibitions demonstrating the work of previous and current Black artists. The goal of the museum is to uplift a community that is often underrepresented in the professional art world. A benefit to visiting this museum is that it is entirely free. However, with this lack of price tag is the fact that it is currently running at only 25% capacity. Patrons who wish to visit the museum must go onto the website and reserve a time slot. Only 50 tickets are available for each hour-long time slot. Despite the time limit, the COVID-19 restrictions are similar to that of any of the above museums, with masks being mandated by all patrons over the age of two and clearly marked directions in order to maintain social distancing. The museum itself is a great method to support Black artists and is an amazing aspect of LA history. Thus, a visit, even if short, is a great way to spend some time in the city.

SoCal itself is a space of cultural abundance with great museums. The art, history and perspective represented in each establishment are a refreshing step back into pre-pandemic life, and as restrictions continue to lessen, more attractions will open for public use. In general terms, museums that have reopened have similar rules of mask requirements, minimized admission and hours as well as the need to purchase tickets ahead of time as they are not commonly sold on site. Thus, it is important to plan ahead if looking to visit in the future. Several more museums are set to open in May or in the spring, such as the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach (MOLAA) and the Getty Center and Villa in Los Angeles, although many dates are yet to be confirmed. If choosing to visit these opening museums assure to adhere to COVID-19 policies and take precautions for personal and public health in this ongoing crisis.

Carisa DeSantos is an Arts and Entertainment Intern for the Spring 2021 quarter. She can be reached at