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Balboa Park comes to life this spring with the re-opening of museums and local attractions

With the ever-growing number of San Diegans receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, everyone is hoping this time it’s for good

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The partial re-openings initiated last year quickly ended and even now indoor venues must operate at significantly reduced capacity. Nevertheless, the news related to the coronavirus pandemic is relatively good here in San Diego.

The county has moved from California’s purple tier into the red tier, and with this improvement many activities are once again possible — though in addition to operating at 25 percent capacity, museums are requiring visitors to wear face masks and observe social distancing protocols.

May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden

Below is a list of venues now open, along with a few highlights.
• Japanese Friendship Garden
• May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden
• San Diego Air & Space Museum
• San Diego Museum of Art
• San Diego Zoo
• Spanish Village Art Center
• Visitors Center in the House of Hospitality
• United Nations Building and Gift Shop
• WorldBeat Cultural Center (café only)

The San Diego Air & Space Museum was the first to re-open its doors on March 17, just as it has been each time museums were allowed to reopen, something at least partly attributable to the fact the building is easier than most to prepare for visitors because it has 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and ceiling heights of 35 to 50 feet with windows near the top that allow for the free flow of air throughout the structure.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be reopened,” says museum President and CEO Jim Kidrick. “Everyone is smiling. After being closed 266 days in the last year, it’s time. We can see it in the faces of the guests when they come through the door. It’s really wonderful to see, because everyone is adhering to the protocols as we hoped, and I just can’t say enough about our team, their resiliency, and their excitement to reopen. And not just for our San Diego friends, but the many national and international visitors who come as well.”

To ensure safety, every visitor gets a free stylus pen so that no one has to touch any of the interactive exhibits with their fingers.

The San Diego Museum of Art opened a few days later on March 20, and Executive Director Roxana Velásquez echoed Kidrick’s feelings, saying, “We’re thrilled to finally be able to share art in person once again, and the response from the San Diego community has lifted our spirits to new levels. Today we celebrate the magnitude of art in real life to soothe the soul, serve as respite, and vitalize the human spirit.”

In addition to the museum’s remarkable permanent collection, current exhibits include Rembrandt and Printmaking in the Netherlands, as well as an extraordinary early self-portrait Rembrandt painted around 1628 when he was 21 or 22,, both of which will only be on view until April 18.

Although allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity, the art museum is capping the number of visitors at only 350 visitors, 20 percent, to make sure there is plenty of space in which to move around while viewing the works.

As an outdoor venue, the San Diego Zoo, along with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, reopened on January 30, and right now the zoo is inviting families to join it on a Spring Adventure — a mission to explore the world of wildlife and enjoy some well-earned family time out.

To keep the community safe, all visitors ages three and up require a ticket or membership and reservation.

Scheduled to Re-open April 2
• Centro Cultural de la Raza
• Fleet Science Center
• San Diego Automotive Museum
• San Diego Model Railroad Museum
• San Diego Natural History Museum

Scheduled to Re-open April 16
• Museum of Photographic Arts
• San Diego History Center

Scheduled to Re-open April 21
• Botanical Building
• Bud Kearns Memorial Pool
• House of Pacific Relations International Cottages
• Marston House Museum
• Observation Deck at Moreton Bay Fig Tree
• The Old Globe
• Timken Museum of Art
• Veterans Museum at Balboa Park

Featured Photo Japanese Friendship Garden
Image Credits Photo by Scott Hallock

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