La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium, Athenaeum and movie theaters set reopenings for indoor guests

La Jolla's Birch Aquarium will reopen its indoor areas Friday, March 19, with limited capacity and reservations required.

Birch Aquarium and the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, two major La Jolla attractions, plan to open indoors again with limited capacity after San Diego County this week entered the less-restrictive red tier of the state’s coronavirus reopening system.

In addition, La Jolla movie theaters have scheduled their reopenings, also with limited capacity.


Birch Aquarium, at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography at 2300 Expedition Way, said it will reopen its indoor areas Friday, March 19. Under the red tier, aquariums are allowed to operate indoors at up to 25 percent capacity.

Previously, under the purple tier, Birch could only operate outdoors. On Feb. 27, after almost three months of closure, the aquarium reopened its outdoor spaces to the public.

“I am so proud of the entire Birch Aquarium team for their hard work and perseverance over these last several months,” said Executive Director Harry Helling. “We have put a lot of effort into making the aquarium a safe place to visit — indoors and out — and we are thrilled to be able to welcome guests back into the Hall of Fishes and our ocean science museum.”

Reservations are required to visit the aquarium, including for members. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12 to $16.50. Learn more at


The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library at 1008 Wall St. will open indoors again Tuesday, March 23, with capacity limited to 25 visitors at a time.

The current exhibition, “Zandra Rhodes: Some Artworks,” can be viewed through Friday, March 26. It has been available intermittently by appointment since Oct. 24.

The Athenaeum will present “Paula McColl: Celebrating La Jolla” from April 1 to May 8. The collection has 35 architectural perspectives, urban scenes and portrait paintings set in La Jolla.

La Jolla artist Paula McColl will have an exhibit of La Jolla scenes like this one at the Athenaeum beginning April 1,
La Jolla artist Paula McColl will have an exhibit of La Jolla scenes like this one beginning Thursday, April 1, at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.

Beginning May 14, the Athenaeum will host the exhibit “Marking Time: What Athenaeum Artists Create in Quarantine.

No opening receptions are scheduled.

Online events and classes will proceed as scheduled.

“We are one of the oldest cultural institutions in San Diego; we lived through the flu epidemic in 1918 and we knew we would conquer this pandemic as well,” said Executive Director Erika Torri. “We are thankful and especially happy to be able to continue with the tasks we most love: to serve our members and in time present all our programs again in person.”

For more information, visit

Movie theaters

The AMC La Jolla 12 cinemas at La Jolla Village Square, 8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, plans to reopen March 19.

In the red tier, movie theaters are allowed up to 25 percent indoor capacity, or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Previously they could not operate indoors. Masks are required unless eating or drinking.

The Lot La Jolla at 7611 Fay Ave. said this week that it is preparing to reopen in mid-April. Both the movie theater and the restaurant will open according to pandemic-related capacity guidelines in effect, according to The Lot’s chief operating officer, Andres Anhalt.

The restaurant is undergoing rebranding and will have an undisclosed new name and menu when it reopens, Anhalt said.

ArcLight Cinemas at the Westfield UTC shopping center at 4425 La Jolla Village Drive remains closed. ◆