By Andrew Checchia
Pasadena Weekly Contributing Writer
With steady vaccine rollout, falling cases and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s planned June 15 general reopening date, California’s long-shuttered museums, sports venues, art galleries, stores, restaurants and more may finally welcome the public back inside.
Like other cities around LA County, Pasadena residents look forward to returning to their favorite attractions as businesses plan safe openings. Many high-profile community and cultural hubs are already open for business.
Having spent the past year experimenting with digital experiences, museums are taking a straightforward approach to bring back in-person visitors. The Huntington is working piecemeal — having reopened 14 of its gardens and select galleries in the museum space. The galleries include the recently debuted “Made in L.A. 2020” exhibition, put on in collaboration with the Hammer Museum near UCLA. This fifth annual installation of the exhibit features work from 30 Los Angeles-based artists. While operating mostly as normal, the Huntington now requires members and the public to make reservations prior to their visit.
Similarly, the Kidspace Children’s Museum and the Southern California Children’s Museum are open with reservation systems, the latter of which reopened with an emphasis on its new “contactless sensory play program,” a measure to promote creativity while keeping kids distanced.
Some smaller local favorites have also reopened with limited capacity, like the Bunny Museum in Altadena. Visitors can see its 43,442 bunny objects on a “first-come, first-hop-in” basis.
Other major museums — including the Norton Simon, the Pasadena Museum of History, the USC Pacific Asian Museum, the Gamble House and the Armory Center — remain closed, but most outlined plans to resume tours within the next month.
Sports venues are also trying to bring visitors back to the stands. The Rose Bowl, while not hosting its typical collegiate games, is continuing to use its grounds for limited events, like drive-in charity concerts and a ticketed flea market (put on the second Sunday of every month). The Rose Bowl will see its first big game when UCLA takes on the University of Hawaii come Aug. 28 as college football moves forward with its planned 2021 season.
Smaller local venues are slowly reopening according to the needs of their communities. Most high school athletics and little league games have resumed in some capacity, but spectators are generally limited to household family members.
Art galleries remain a mixed bag, but some larger galleries have reopened with new exhibitions. But if open, most galleries are operating on an appointment basis to limit crowds. For example, the Peter Mendenhall Gallery reopened April 17 by offering reservations to see work of artist Albert Contreras. Gallery 30 South is also open to the public and recently debuted a “punk photography” series from Linda Aronow.
Local favorite Century Books, which houses a small art gallery upstairs, is also open by appointment. However, other galleries, like sp[a]ce, the Arbor Academy of Art and the Williamson Gallery (located within the ArtCenter College of Design) remain closed.
But plenty of artisan craft boutiques are open nearby, including Gold Bug, Ten Thousand Villages and Jade’s Fashions. Each is open for the limited and distanced in-person shopping measures most consumers have begun to expect, but Jade’s also offers a reservation system where customers can make an appointment for a one-on-one private shopping and styling experience.
Other local businesses, like the Green & Bisque Clayhouse, have even reopened in-person art classes. The Clayhouse’s six-week pottery courses run with social distancing and constant sanitation but finally allow students to get hands-on experience with the material. Their next session is open for registration and will begin June 8.
For parents looking for in-person summer activities for their kids, plenty of local camps are planning on reopening for the upcoming season. Multiple Galileo education programs will take place in schools near Pasadena, with a central location at St. Andrew Catholic School. Other outdoor-centric programs also plan on operating as normal with safety precautions, including the long-running Camp Adventurewood.
With these reopenings, the slow march back to normalcy seems to be mounting. Like the rest of the city, state and country, Pasadena businesses and institutions certainly took a beating during the pandemic, but those that survived can look forward to the public’s return both now and as restrictions lax even more this summer.