New England Aquarium announces reopening of Simons Theatre on Aug. 1 at reduced capacity - New England Aquarium
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New England Aquarium announces reopening of Simons Theatre on Aug. 1 at reduced capacity


Health and safety of staff and visitors remains top priority

seats in renovated Simons Theatre

BOSTON, MASS. (July 30, 2020) — The New England Aquarium will be reopening the Simons Theatre on Aug. 1, screening three films after a 15-week closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently renovated 378-seat theater will open with a max occupancy of 25 people based on the state guidelines, and staff will operate from outside the theater.

To promote social distancing, guests will sit in designated rows and maintain a minimum of four seats between them and another party. Exiting the theater following the film will be done in an orderly fashion and the space will be cleaned between each showing. There will be no concessions at this time. Tickets can be bought 30 minutes ahead of an Aquarium entry time or 100 minutes after. Entry will be contactless with single self-scanning stations and queuing at each entrance.

During the initial reopening phase, the theatre will be showing two 22-minute films in 2D including Backyard Wilderness, which follows Katie, a young girl, and her modern family living next to the woods. Although Katie and her family are initially unaware of their green surroundings due to their busy lives and constant technological exposure, they gradually discover the joy of unplugging and living in harmony with nature. The second film, Great White Shark, unravels the mystery of the creature we love to fear—the much misunderstood great white shark—and goes to the depths of human daring to tell the true story of its role atop the oceanic food chain. Sea Lions: Life By A Whisker, a lushly-photographed documentary that details the challenges encountered by a population of endangered Australian sea lions.

After a renovation project earlier this year, the upgraded Simons Theatre now has an advanced laser cinema projector that brings more razor-sharp images to the giant 80-foot-wide, 43-foot-high projection screen. There are also comfortable, high-backed seats, and a 1,600-square-foot stage. As part of the Aquarium’s sustainability initiative, renovations also include new carpeting made of 100 percent recycled yarn from discarded fishing nets, and the new projection system has reduced electricity usage by 40 percent.

After closing its doors to the public on March 13, the Aquarium reopened on July 16 at just under 15 percent capacity, or about 240 visitors plus staff at a given time. In addition to the reduced number of visitors, there are enhanced cleaning efforts including contactless entry, a one-way guest flow, mandatory face coverings, and some experiences are limited for hygiene and social distancing purposes.

The Simons Theatre and the Aquarium will continue to monitor updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Boston Public Health Commission closely as the situation continues to unfold. For updated information on the reopening, please visit


Pam Bechtold Snyder,; 617-686-5068