“The past is a foreign country,” author L.P. Hartley famously wrote in his book The Go-Between. Perhaps that’s why we hold on to the postcards…
Museums all over the Southland continue to reopen, offering treasures and treats for all ages and every interest. All visitors must comply with state and county COVID-19 safety measures that include advance registration, submitting to an online health screening and in-person temperature check before entering, observing six-foot distancing and wearing a two-layer cloth mask. Neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas, and face coverings with valves, mesh, or holes will not qualify. Some areas may still be off limits, and food service and other conveniences may not be available, but the reopenings are breathing new life and hope into Southern California.
The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades reopened this week for the first since the coronavirus crisis began last March. Visitors can explore the museum’s Roman gardens just in time for peak spring bloom, visit the antiquities galleries, and finally see Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins, a highly anticipated major exhibition that was slated to open just days after the Villa had to close last year. Organized by the Getty Museum and the Musée du Louvre, Paris, Mesopotamia features work from the Louvre with additional loans from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The installation is described as the most important exhibition of Mesopotamian art ever presented on the West Coast. This is a once-in-a-lifetime show for anyone interested in the roots of civilization. Admission is free, but reservations are required, and there is a parking fee. https://www.getty.edu
The Bowers Museum in Orange County also had to close its doors on a highly anticipated new exhibition last year, this one focused on pop culture instead of ancient civilization. The Bowers reopened last month, and finally opened the doors to Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic, a 10,000-square-feet traveling exhibit that showcases 400 objects from the Walt Disney Archives. It’s a fun and entertaining exhibition for all ages, and it’s been extended through June. The Bowers is a long drive for local residents, but it offers some amazing things. Also on exhibit right now is Treasures in Gold & Jade: Masterworks from Taiwan, featuring 27 carvings by jade sculptor Huang Fu Shou, and 17 sculptures by goldsmith Wu Ching. It’s a spectacular show. www.bowers.org
Travel Town Museum at Griffith Park also reopened this month. The open air railroad heritage museum, loved by generations of Angelenos, is better than ever. While the site was closed, staff and volunteers of the Travel Town Museum Foundation were hard at work restoring several of the museum’s historic trains. We know a certain four year old who has been asking about Travel Town for months. The answer is now yes, it’s open! Check the website for hours and admission: www.laparks.org/traveltown/locomotives
Closer to home, the Chumash Indian Museum in Thousand Oaks reopened early this month. This small local cultural heritage museum houses an astonishing collection of artifacts created by the Chumash people, from tools to toys, musical instruments to star charts. The museum is located in Oakbrook Regional Park, 3290 Lang Ranch Parkway. Walking trails in the park include a look at Chumash mortar stones and a replica Chumash village. The hours are 11-3 p.m. daily. No reservations required. The park is open from sunrise to sunset. It’s a great day trip adventure for families. www.chumashmuseum.org
There is good news from MOCA. All facilities at the Museum of Contemporary Art will reopen starting June 3, with member preview days starting May 20. All visitors will need to book timed tickets in advance, but those passes will now be free. www.moca.org