What to Do During Opening Our Doors 2014

Fenway Alliance's 13th annual festival is a neighborhood-wide free-for-all celebration of the arts on Columbus Day.


The Mary Baker Eddy Library is one of several venues hosting open houses on Monday. / Mapparium Photo via GoCardUSA on Flickr

For 13 years now, the Fenway Alliance has hosted the popular ‘Opening Our Doors’ celebration, a one-day festival on Columbus Day during which cultural institutions host open houses and/or hit the streets to celebrate arts and culture in the Fenway Cultural District.

The free-for-all festival is open to the public and includes free arts and entertainment taking over public spaces around the neighborhood as well as inside museums like the MFA and Gardner Museum. The question of the day is not so much whether you should go, but how to experience as much as possible in about a six-hour time frame.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a to-do list for Opening Our Doors 2014:


Begin your day with the Opening Our Doors kickoff ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Christian Science Plaza. There will be a performance by the Boston Children’s Chorus, kids’ parade with the Hot Tamale Brass Band, and free cupcakes by Oakleaf Cakes. You could stay at Christian Science Plaza for the whole day if you wanted. It’s one of the main venues hosting special activities and entertainment all day long including balloon art, kite-flying, music and dance performances, and more.


Even if the plaza will be abuzz all day, a strategic visitor will also want to take advantage of the many open houses taking place during Opening Our Doors. For example, right next to the plaza is the Mary Baker Eddy Library, where you can check out the Mapparium, the Hall of Ideas, and other interactive exhibits.


Another venue opening its doors is the Museum of Fine Arts. During the MFA’s fall open house, visitors can check out the newly opened Goya: Order and Disorder exhibit, as well as other relatively new exhibits like Shinique Smith: Bright Matter, Hollywood Glamour, and the brand-new Conversation Piece. If you’re feeling daring, try out Miranda July’s new Somebody app, for which the MFA is a hotspot. Special events throughout the day will include flamenco dancing, contemporary short films, a music performance by Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents, and family-friendly art-making activities.


If you’re feeling tied for time, keep in mind that the MFA hosts several other free community days throughout the year, so if you don’t mind missing out on featured exhibits, use your time on Monday to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum instead. Earlier this year, the Gardner teamed up with Google so people can virtually visit the museum Google Maps-style. But to get really up close and personal with Mrs. Gardner’s collection, and to literally smell the chrysanthemums in her courtyard, you have to go and see the Gardner in person. Visit between 2 and 3 p.m. on Monday for live music in the courtyard. Timed entries will begin at 10 a.m., with last entry at 4 p.m.


Right by the Gardner Museum is Evans Way Park, another public venue hosting Opening Our Doors events all day long, from tai chi, to painting, to performances by Bloco Afro-Brazil, Colonial Fife, and Cymbal Jungle of Sound. Don’t forget to look up—in celebration of Fenway Alliance and Opening Our Doors, Shepley Bulfinch has installed the audiovisual public art installation “Sparkle and Chime,” in which thousands of reflective metal discs and rings hanging from the trees project twinkling lights and wind chime-like sounds around the park.


Finally, to steer your young ones farther off the beaten path, consider stopping by Wheelock Family Theatre. Early in the morning, check out Wonderland Stage Tours (every 15 minutes, 9-10:30 a.m.) to explore the WFT’s production of “Alice.” From 11 a.m to 12 p.m., watch the WFT Story Troupers perform an original show based on children’s literature called “Move It! Move It!”


Opening Our Doors 2014 takes place Monday, October 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. throughout the Fenway neighborhood. View the full program here. 

Learn more about Fenway Alliance and the Fenway Cultural District at fenwayculture.org.