As the lockdown has progressed over the months, we’ve learned how to make concessions between needs and wants, particularly when it comes to enjoying nature and culture. While most local cultural institutions like the American Visionary Art Museum and The Walters Art Museum are closed, here are a handful of open institutions that are waiting for you. Check their websites or call for current information before you venture forth, and remember to wear your mask.

Baltimore Museum of Art
Baltimore Museum of Art Photo by Ethan McLeod

There’s so much to see at the Baltimore Museum of Art that guests rarely take time to visit the Janet and Alan Wurtzburger Sculpture Garden and the Ryda and Robert H. Levi Sculpture Garden. Now that the galleries are closed, it’s time to stay outside and explore. The gardens are open Tuesday through Sunday between 10 a.m. and dusk except during storms and extreme heat. The Wurtzburger garden is home to 33 modern and contemporary sculptures that covers about 100 years of dimensional art from Auguste Rodin to Henry Moore to Ellsworth Kelly. Max Bill’s Endless Ribbon is a mid-century granite interpretation of a Mobius Strip and always a delight. The Levi garden has 14 pieces that highlight the last half of the 20th century with works by Anthony Caro, Joan Miro, and Alexander Calder.

Beginning Wednesday, August 5, the BMA debuts a presentation of Kota Ezawa’s powerful video National Anthem in the Latrobe Spring House and on BMA Go Mobile, the museum’s app. Beginning Saturday, August 15, the experiences will be accompanied by the Snow Cone Sisters snack kiosk featuring gourmet hot dogs and snow cones from Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen. The Sculpture Gardens and Spring House will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, weather permitting. The snack kiosk will be open Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to dusk.

Call 443-573-1822 to hear commentary about the sculpture pieces. 10 Art Museum Drive; 443-573-1700.

One way we’ve occupied our quarantine time is with gardening. For inspiration, you should visit the Cylburn Arboretum. The visitor center, mansion, and greenhouse classroom are closed, so you’re encouraged to walk the grounds and explore the 200 acres of trails and nearly two dozen gardens, open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to dusk. While the grounds need constant attention, they prove that many surprising plants can survive our weather. Check the Worthley Garden to see succulents, cacti, conifers, perennials, and annuals. Prefer critters to blossoms? Look for dragonflies, butterflies, box turtles, hummingbirds, and other creatures. Stop by the website first to download self-guided tours and pictures of the trees and flowers you’ll see on your visit. 4915 Greenspring Avenue; 410-367-2217.

Photo by Kimberlyshorter, via Wikimedia Commons.

Timed tickets are offered at the National Aquarium so they can maintain social distancing while you watch a shark glide past you and you wonder why it doesn’t eat the other fish (ask the staff about target feeding). Only 25 percent of the normal attendance is allowed and a linear path guides you through the aquarium with interpretative signs to help you through the facility. The 4D Immersion Theater and Living Seashore touch pools are closed. You can walk through the Dolphin Discovery, but seating is available. Enter through Pier 3 and exit on Pier 4. The Aquarium opens at 9 a.m. daily with extended hours on Friday and Saturday. 501 E. Pratt Street; 410-576-3800.

Bengies Drive-In
Bengies, circa 1998, obviously.

Family fun suffered while 5,000 indoor movie theaters shuttered, but drive-in movies are thriving. Such is the case with Bengies, in Middle River, the only drive-in left in Maryland (there were 40 at one time) and it has the biggest screen in the country. You’re asked to order tickets online because they’re operating at slightly less than 50 percent capacity. This is the time to snuggle the children under blankets in the back seat and create lifetime memories. As they’ve had a large drive-out after the first feature, they are selling tickets at the gate for the second show, starting 15 minutes before the show time. Movies have ranged from family favorites (The Jungle Book) to classics (Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing). Check the website,, for regulations and procedures. 3417 Eastern Boulevard; 410-687-5627.

Inside the B&O Railroad Museum roundhouse. (public domain photo)

Another family favorite is the B&O Railroad Museum which shuttered for a while and now offers a full calendar of activities. Try Yoga in the Yard (additional fee), Sweet Toot rides, bring a picnic to enjoy in the backyard pavilion area, story time, a signs and signals tour, and more. Of course, there’s always the permanent and temporary exhibits so you can explore and learn about the birthplace of American railroading. Remember, Maryland teachers (with faculty ID) and military (with military ID) members enjoy free admission. 901 W. Pratt Street; 410-752-2490.

When it’s time for a ride, head to Ladew Topiary Gardens where you can engage your curiosity and wonder, enliven your senses of smell and sight, and spend time connecting with nature. Open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can spend time in the butterfly house and walk the 22 acres of gardens and hike along the Nature Walk. While the café is closed, you can pick up a picnic tote (fee) from the Classic Catering People. Reserved tickets are required for non-members. 3535 Jarrettsville Pike; 410-557-9570.

Judy Colbert

Judy Colbert is the author of '100 Things to Do in Baltimore Before You Die.'

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