This week, WGBH Executive Arts Editor Jared Bowen reveals which museums begin opening this month. Then, a guide to how arts spaces can reopen safely with Dr. Joseph Allen. Plus, playwright Idris Goodwin releases five free plays.

Museums announce their reopening dates

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum plans to reopen to the public on July 15.
Chitose Suzuki/AP/File AP

An array of museums in Massachusetts announced their reopening dates this week. The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston will reopen to the public on July 16, with online and contactless ticket entry and a limit of 100 visitors per hour. The New England Aquarium also plans to reopen on July 16, with limited ticketing per day and signage to promote a one-way flow of traffic through the aquarium. Some experiences will also be restricted, such as the shark and ray touch tank, which will be viewing-only for the time being.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum reopens July 15, also with a limited visitor capacity and timed ticket entry. Clinton’s Museum of Russian Icons reopens July 17 with new programming and a limit of 20 visitors per half-hour. The Peabody Essex Museum opens the next day with similar guidelines, but will only be open Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. for the time being. And the New Bedford Whaling Museum reopens July 23, but members will have access to the museum as early as Thursday, July 9. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts says it plans to reopen in early fall, and the Worcester Art Museum has announced they will open in October. All museums say they will regularly sanitize “high-contact” areas throughout their buildings and all patrons will be required to wear masks during their visits.

“The Roadmap to Recovery and Resilience for Theater,” a healthy buildings initiative from the American Repertory Theater and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The cast of 'Gloria: A Life' performing at the American Repertory Theater earlier this year, before the coronavirus closed theaters across the country
Gretjen Helene Photography Courtesy of the American Repertory Theater

As Massachusetts enters Phase 3 of reopening, arts organizations around the state are announcing their return dates. But what will a return to arts spaces, like theaters, look like? How can it be done safely? For this, Jared turns to Dr. Joseph Allen at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Allen is the Director of Harvard’s Healthy Buildings Programs, and has teamed with the American Repertory Theater to develop a “Roadmap for Recovery and Resilience for Theater” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The roadmap is a document that addresses how theaters can safely navigate the various aspects of live theater, including rehearsals, ticketing, concessions, restrooms, back-of-house operations, and more.

“It's a misnomer that only shiny new buildings can be healthy buildings or that these have to cost a lot,” says Dr. Allen. “It doesn't cost a lot. In fact, upgrading your filters costs a couple of dollars, really, and so I've been careful to say, ‘Look, these are controls strategies that nearly every building can do right now.’”

This living document, now on the A.R.T. website, is intended to serve as a roadmap and guide for other theaters to use as they plan to reopen to the public.

“FREE PLAY: Open Source Scripts Toward an Antiracist Tomorrow,” five short plays by playwright Idris Goodwin are now available for free

Kadahj Bennett, Michael Knowlton, and Rachel Cognata in Company One Theatre's limited return engagement of "Hype Man" by Idris Goodwin
Paul Fox, courtesy of Company One Theatre

Playwright Idris Goodwin, known for his break-beat plays “Hype Man” and “How We Got On,” has released a package of five short scripts free to audiences. The material is hosted by Theatre for Young Audiences USA, “FREE PLAY: Open Source Scripts Toward an Antiracist Tomorrow.” Goodwin said he hopes families will read aloud or even perform the works together as an exercise in immersing themselves in the dialogue, issues and even arguments regarding race.

“Because I'm a professional playwright, I bring scripts to the table and say, ‘OK everybody, let's read,’” says Goodwin. “So I thought, ‘Well, why not do something like this, but create opportunities for people to have conversations about race?’”

The subject matter ranges from an exploration of Juneteenth to the dangers of toy guns to debates over the Black Lives Matter movement and images of the Confederacy.

Are you eager to return to museums or revisit a favorite piece of art? Tell Jared about it on Facebook or Twitter!