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In pictures: Coming back to life — before and after scenes from L.A.’s cultural reopening

People walk along Hollywood Boulevard
The scene on Hollywood Boulevard near the TCL Chinese Theatres on March 20, a year after the first COVID-19 “Safer at Home” order went into effect.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
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Now that counties across Southern California have moved from the most extreme purple tier for COVID-19 restrictions into the red tier — and look to enter the even more permissive orange tier as new cases drop and vaccination rates rise — movie theaters, museums, theme parks and other cultural institutions (with the exception of most live performance spaces) are beginning the reopening process within pandemic guidelines. Call it our spring awakening.

Times entertainment photo editor Ken Kwok dispatched photographers Jay L. Clendenin, Allen J. Schaben, Mel Melcon, Genaro Molina and Myung J. Chun to capture the scene.

La Brea Tar Pits Museum and LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in DTLA have reopened. The Broad, MOCA and the Getty Villa set dates.

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Hollywood and Highland, Hollywood

Paired photos of the TCL Chinese Theatres on Hollywood Boulevard in March 2020 and in March 2021.
Hollywood Boulevard in March 2020, top, just after California’s “Safer at Home” order and one year later, a busier scene.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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What will we lose if movie theaters can’t recover from the pandemic-forced shutdown? We asked Oscar-nominated producers of this year’s best picture contenders

People walk Hollywood Boulevard past shops and street vendors a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bustling Saturday night scene along Hollywood Boulevard on March 20, a year after California’s first “Safer at Home” order.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Paired photos of an empty Hollywood & Highland complex in March 2020 and a year later with scattered people.
An empty Hollywood & Highland in March 2020, top, and a year later as visitors walk a passage of the shopping and theater complex.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

On Hollywood Boulevard, a costumed Chewbacca and Spider-Man interact with visitors.
Costumed characters return to Hollywood Boulevard, as do visitors, as Los Angeles County COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Paired photos of the deserted TCL Chinese Theatres on Hollywood Boulevard in March 2020 and one year later.
The TCL Chinese Theatres on Hollywood Boulevard in March 2020, top, and one year later.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Before and after of Hollywood Boulevard near the TCL Chinese Theatre
On top, Hollywood Boulevard near the TCL Chinese Theatres a year ago on the first Friday night of a “Safer at Home” order in March of 2020. A year later, below, activity resumes on Hollywood’s streets.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Universal Studios Hollywood

A pug named Dibs, an animal actor, checks out a statue in "The Simpsons" area at Universal Studios Hollywood.
As preparations are made to reopen Universal Studios Hollywood, Dibs the pug, an animal actor, takes a close look at a statue of Chief Clancy Wiggum from “The Simpsons” while trainer Jasmine Versales familiarizes the dog with the grounds.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Technicians inspect a theme park ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Technicians Ryan Lindberg, top, and Pete Roloff inspect pacer motors for the Jurassic World ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. The park is open only for the food and shopping event Taste of Universal, but a full reopening is expected in late April.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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The Cinemark Playa Vista

A 4-year-old boy selects items at the Cinemark Playa Vista and XD movie theater on its reopening day.
A birthday movie outing: Aidan, 4, collects candy options to go with a hot dog as his dad, Daniel Curtis of Torrance, holds popcorn and water on reopening day, March 15, at the Cinemark Playa Vista and XD movie theater. Their movie choice: “Tom and Jerry.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

For America’s theater chains, this could finally be the start of what’s expected to be a long recovery for the moviegoing experience.

A man wearing a mask and face shield uses an apparatus to sanitize a movie auditorium.
Atta Areqat, general manager at the Cinemark Playa Vista and XD movie theater, demonstrates how the staff will sanitize every morning before opening.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A boy and his father are just two of eight people in a movie theater.
Daniel Curtis and his son Aidan, 4, of Torrance are two of only eight patrons during a 1 p.m. showing of “Tom and Jerry” at the Cinemark Playa Vista and XD movie theater on its reopening day.`
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach

A sea otter swims past a young girl at Aquarium of the Pacific.
Olivia Lakner, 5, of Whittier gets an up-close look at a sea otter at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, which reopened March 15.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Disney California Adventure, Anaheim

Monica Link, of Sacramento, takes a photo with a Dole Whip at the Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats on Pixar Pier
Monica Link of Sacramento takes a selfie with a Dole whip snack on Pixar Pier during the debut of Disney California Adventure’s A Touch of Disney food and shopping event, which runs through April 19. Disney’s Anaheim parks will reopen fully, with rides, on April 30.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Disney California Adventure is the first of Anaheim’s Disney theme parks to let guests explore its full layout, albeit without rides — for now.

Two young women in "Monsters Inc." Sulley character costumes pose on Pixar Pier.
Sepideh Hami, left, and Ashley Sanchez pose in their Sulley character costumes from “Monsters Inc.” on Pixar Pier during the debut of Disney California Adventure’s A Touch of Disney event on March 18.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Pluto waves from a great social distance to a young Disney fan.
Pluto waves to during a socially distanced character appearance on Pixar Pier during the debut of Disney California Adventure’s A Touch of Disney.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A boy rides on his dad's shoulders as they stroll through Disney's California Adventure.
Dad Austin Carroll of Orange and Asher, 3, check out at Pixar Pier.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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Van Nuys

A low rider shows off during cruise night
During the pandemic, cruising has reached levels not seen for decades. A driver shows off his car’s hydraulic suspension during a March 20 Van Nuys Cruise Night on Van Nuys Boulevard.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

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Bowers Museum, Santa Ana

A 13-year-old visitor stands in front of a mural at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.
At Bowers Museum, Lali Cervantes, 13, of Covina views the exhibit “Sacred Realms: Temple Murals” during the museum’s reopening on March 17. The museumreopened at 25% capacity.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The value of pop art is directly proportional to the care with which we treat it. That’s a core thesis of a Disney exhibit at Orange County’s Bowers Museum.

 At Bowers Museum, a man stands in front of large ornaments made of silver.
Hiko Tokuchi of Orange views the Bowers Museum exhibit “Miao: Masters of Silver.”
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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A father and his 6-month-old son stroll among artifacts and art at Bowers Museum.
Will Fabing and his 6-month-old son, Astrid, view artifacts and artwork in Bowers Museum’s Oceanic collection.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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The El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood

Wendy Zaragoza and Oscar Puente, from Los Angeles
Wendy Zaragoza and Oscar Puente of Los Angeles were first in line at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre on its reopening day, March 19, for a screening of “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Actress Kelly Marie Tran, voice of "Raya," and Carlos Lopez Estrada
At the El Capitan’s reopening screening of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” actress Kelly Marie Tran, who voices Raya, and co-director Carlos Lopez Estrada greet moviegoers. Capacity was capped at 25%.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Carlos Lopez Estrada, a co-director of "Raya and the Last Dragon," and actress Kelly Marie Tran at the El Capitan Theatre.
Carlos Lopez Estrada, a co-director of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and actress Kelly Marie Tran at the El Capitan’s reopening.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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The Natural History Museum, Los Angeles

At the Natural History Museum's butterfly pavilion, a 4-year-old, visiting with his grandfather, points to a butterfly.
On March 18, the first day the Natural History Museum’s butterfly pavilion reopened, Billy Ryder, 4, and his grandfather, Bill Ryder, 70, encounter one of the fluttering creatures. The museum’s indoors will open April 1.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A 4-year-old holds out a finger to see if a butterfly will land on it. His 2-year-old brother watches.
Billy Ryder, 4, right, sees if a Morpho Blue butterfly will land on his finger. His brother Jamie, 2, looks on.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

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