There is a lot to behold at a museum. So many fascinating elements and fixtures that bewilder and grasp the attention of individuals young and old. Be it art, natural history, science, or culture, a museum is a place to let your imagination run wild, a place to slow down and wonder about all the fascinating things that helped bring this amazing location to life. Unfortunately, these last few months have forced the closure of countless museums in the Southern California area leaving many to wonder when they will come back. However, just because the covid-19 pandemic has kept us stuck at home doesn’t mean that museums aren’t working diligently to create exhibits that let you explore, learn, investigate, and have fun from the comfort of your couch. While we all wait for the eventual reopening of our favorite museums, let’s take a moment and cover some things that local establishments are doing to bring their wonderment to you!
Pretend City Children’s Museum features a small, interconnected city designed to “build better brains” through purposeful play, hands-on learning experiences, role playing, and educational programming. The Museum temporarily closed due to Covid but plans to reopen mid-October. When you decide to visit, advance reservations are now required. The Museum is limiting attendance to ensure social distancing between visitors. In the meantime, check out their Play at Home Guides for activities for you to do with your kids and their Facebook Live program every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 am. Free parenting programs are offered every-other Thursday at 5 pm.. The museum is a community resource offering developmental screenings and tools for families, educators and community agencies working to ensure that each child gains the experiences needed to discover their potential and build toward a productive and fulfilling future. Pretend City will be open Wednesday – Sunday. The museum is located at 29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618. www.pretendcity.org. 949-428-3900
Discovery Cube OC
The unmistakable Discovery Cube is a museum most individuals in the Orange County area should be familiar with. In July, the museum temporarily closed due to the coronavirus. Fortunately for Discovery Cube lovers, they moved quickly to go virtually and were able to accommodate kids of all ages by offering fun, hands-on experiences for them to investigate science at home. If you can’t wait for the reopening, Discovery Cube Connect has got you covered with fun, STEM-based activities and programs you can do at home to help inspire and educate young minds. In the meantime, staff continues to work hard to ready the cube for your arrival and have put out what to expect the next time you visit. What to Expect
Los Angeles Zoo
Here is some exciting news for you animal lovers out there, the LA Zoo is officially open. After months of waiting, the zoo is back and eager to show you what its animals have been up to while you were away. However, keep in mind that things will be different if you decide to plan a visit. The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that a reservation is now required to enter this location. This will ensure adequate physical distancing between guests and put everyone more at ease. Also, the zoo is now only open 5 days of the week from Thursday – Monday, 10am to 5pm. To book an appointment and learn what is expected of you upon arrival, visit LA Zoo Reopening to learn more.
Natural History Museum
While the inside does remain closed, the Natural History Museum of L.A.’s Butterfly Pavilion is now open for those who are eager to take a stroll through their beautiful Nature Gardens. The museum had plans to reopen completely on Friday, September 11th under new covid guidelines; however, with restrictions still in place, they continue to operate in a strictly outdoor setting. For a full list of covid-19 safety tips check out the museum’s Safety Guidelines to see what is expected of you if you plan to visit. While you wait for the reopening, feel free to visit their website to discover more wonderful things the NHM is offering. For adults, you can register for a three-event live series called When Women Vote and learn how women’s protests have changed history. Although 2 of the events have already happened, you can still view past events and learn about some amazing women who have been standing for gender equality and empowerment for years. If this interests you, keep in mind that there is still one more event on December 3rd that touches on what women in LA are fighting for today. Register Here. For families and their kids, the NHM is offering a digital bug fair where you can learn from insect experts, and discover bugs through fun activities. There is no ticket necessary for you to explore some great activities like a backyard bug hunt or some more eclectic ideas like cooking with bugs and the ‘Cooking Critters Guide’ Bug Stuff.
Bowers Museum really had a cool exhibit lined up with their Inside the Walt Disney Archives event but, because of the coronavirus, they have not been able to showcase that as much as they would have liked. Fortunately, for those who wish to see the exhibit before it is gone, Bowers has extended the end date on that to October 18th to accommodate those who want to catch it when they reopen. Once again however, just like the other museums on this list, Bowers is offering some great online programs to pass the time while they remain closed. For instance, till September 18th, families can purchase a kit that includes materials and instructions to create their very own Crystal Art piece. Bowers is also still offering fun, virtual festivals, like their festival of the Autumn Moon on September 27th and their Mexican Day of the Dead Festival on October 25th. Check out what other programs they are offering here. Bowers Programs.
Children’s Museum La Habra
Although the Children’s Museum remains closed, staff continues to work diligently to bring you online materials during the shutdown. They are doing some really great things for kids during this time and are offering awesome curbside kits that let you take the museum home with you.
We spoke with the museum director Maria Tinajero-Dowdle and got in touch with Raquel Ochoa, the Education and Outreach Coordinator, and were able to get some great information on what they are doing to keep this tiny but mighty Museum on the map! Here is a brief overview of what she touched on. Visit their website and be sure to follow them on facebook and Instagram for even more up-to-date information.
For the duration of our COVID-19 closure, we have been running a few programs offered to both the general public and our Museum Members. Right now we offer curbside pickup for our awesome take-home kits. We survey our audience every so often to get an idea of what their little ones are interested in and create our kits from there! Our goal is to provide our families with high-quality, interesting, and fun opportunities for play! We have created Gardening kits, Kinder Chemistry kits, All About Water kits, and so much more. These kits are ready for purchase at the links below!
We also began an Outdoor Play Pass every Wednesday with themes that range from Dinosaurs to Building and Design! Families love being outside with their little ones and appreciate that our Museum goes the extra mile to ensure social distancing, sanitization, and overall fun! Sadly, our last Play Pass Day will be this Wednesday, Dino-riffic Day. We hope to provide more of these in the future for our families who are looking for more fresh air fun so keep an eye out on our social medias for more information.
Our digital platforms will still be home to a wide range of learning opportunities for both grownups and little ones. We have activities from reading children’s books and doing activities to Teach-Me-Tuesdays: where grown-ups learn about engaging their child through play! We have loved connecting with our digital audience and asking exactly how we can assist them in the age of distance learning.
Our latest Museum update is that we will finally be opening to the public again! Starting September 23rd, we will be open for morning sessions, by reservation only, from 10AM-12PM Wednesday-Friday. We are so excited to welcome back our families who we have missed so much! We have missed the laughter of children and experiencing the joy of families playing. We will be following state and local guidelines around maximum capacities and implementing one-family-per-area reminders so our families can enjoy play while maintaining a safe distance from each other. Check out our website for information on reduced prices and signing your family up for a day of play.
How the Museum is navigating these updates:
It has been a difficult few months with so many COVID-19 changes and updates, but our small Museum is resilient. We are extremely proud of our powerful team who continue to think on their feet and continue to create new opportunities for our local community to enjoy learn and play! We are so grateful for all of our Museum goers who have checked in on us and eagerly await our reopening. We promise we are just as excited as you!
Social Media Handles:
For more information on our curbside kits, re-opening plans, or general questions you can find us here:
Bonus Virtual Tours of Popular Museums Around the World
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Through Google, this famous American art museum features two online exhibits. The first of which is an exhibit of American fashion from 1740 to 1895. It includes many renderings of clothes from the colonial and Revolutionary eras. The second is a collection of works from Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer. Google Arts & Culture (DC)
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Once again through Google, fans of this rather tragic but ingenious painter can view his works (almost) up close by virtually traveling to the museum which features the largest collection of artworks by Vincent van Gogh. Google Arts & Culture (Van Gogh)
The National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
Built in 1964, this museum is dedicated to the archaeology and history of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic heritage. There are 23 exhibit rooms filled with ancient artifacts, including some from the Mayan civilization. Google Arts & Culture (Anthropology)
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
One of Korea’s most popular museums can be accessed from anywhere around the world with Google’s virtual tour. Visiting the site will allow you to travel through six floors of Contemporary art from Korea and all over the globe. Google Arts & Culture (Contemporary)
Museums are slowly starting to open and they are doing everything they can to make you feel comfortable if you decide to visit. By limiting their hours and staff and by keeping crowds to a minimum, you can feel as safe as possible during these times. The museums listed here are a great start for you and your family and all offer great online resources for you to bring the magic home. If you make the choice to go out to one of the locations on the list that offer an outside experience, remember to check their website beforehand to learn their covid-19 protocols. All the locations will require you to wear a mask and most will ask you to make a reservation beforehand. Museums will be reopening inside eventually but until then, be patient with staff as they do their best to navigate these unprecedented times. Click the links to learn more and remember to stay safe, keep your distance, and wash your hands!