Mary Baker Eddy Library presents A Day of Cultural Experience


By Julia Crooijmans, news correspondent 

Dozens of parents and children gathered at the Mary Baker Eddy Library on the morning of Oct. 8th at to kick off Boston’s largest day of arts, cultural and educational events. The Opening Our Doors celebration, now in its 17th year consists of members of the Fenway Alliance – a group of cultural and academic institutions located in the Fenway area – hosting free activities and visitors.

“All of the membership institutions that make up the Fenway Alliance are contributing something to this day,” said Taylor Mortell, the assistant director of the Fenway Alliance.

The event was split between three nearby sites: the greater Fenway District, Evans Way Park and The First Church of Christ, Scientist. The latter set up activities targeted to children such as a storytime session and an interactive mural led by artist Kayla Arias.

Among the main attractions were the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, both of which offered free admission and organized tours of their permanent exhibitions.

The Huntington Theatre Company and The New England Conservatory organized theatrical and musical experiences such as self-guided backstage tours, play readings and performances of Leonard Bernstein’s work.

“Opening Our Doors is literally that – it is about throwing open the doors to all these organizations so you can go in and have a look,” said Mari Jenkins, the senior program officer for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, at the kick off ceremony.

Kelly J. Brilliant, the executive director of the Fenway Alliance said the event was named after the front doors of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which were closed until a new museum director opened them 18 years ago.

“Events like this are really important for bringing people together,” Mortell said. “It provides paying opportunities for local artists to showcase their work within communities and, on the other side of that, audiences and attendees get to experience and interact with artists in their neighborhood that they maybe didn’t know about – so it can spread cultural awareness.”

At Evans Way Park from 11 a.m. to noon, Grooversity, a drumming group led by Brazilian percussionist Marcus Santos, performed and danced to contemporary and traditional Latin music. Members of the audience were encouraged to step on stage and create their own dance routines to the beat of the drums.

“If it wasn’t for Berklee College of Music’s support and their community outreach, we wouldn’t be able to perform,” Santos said. “We loved playing here – [Evans Way Park] is so beautiful.”

At the entrances of some of the museums, opera singers, children’s choirs and a cappella groups were set up to entertain those waiting in line.

“While the lines may be a little longer and the museums may be a little more crowded, I think it is still worth coming,” said Robert Stephens, a Brown University senior who visited the MFA and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. “The music being performed outside of the museum makes standing in the line actually enjoyable, and the free admission is amazing for those who don’t want to spend over $20 per [museum] ticket.”

As a raise of hands at the kickoff ceremony confirmed, those living in Fenway were not the only attendees of the Opening Our Doors events. Many visitors from various neighborhoods of Boston and outside the city came to Fenway to take advantage of the day’s opportunities.

Massachusetts State House representative Chynah Tyler said the Opening Our Doors celebration impacted those outside of Fenway too.

“The Fenway community is such a unique community because it provides a sense of pride that ripples through the city of Boston as a whole and essentially is what makes us Boston strong,” Tyler said.