Shutdown forces Smithsonian to close sites
Simon Stephens, 04.01.2019
19 museums and a zoo hit by US federal government shutdown
The world’s largest museum organisation has been forced to close all its sites because of the federal government shutdown in the US.
The Smithsonian, which has 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park, as well as research facilities, closed the doors of its venues on 2 January following the shutdown, which started on 22 December. The museums are normally open seven days a week.
Admission to all Smithsonian museums in Washington is free, including its most recent addition, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016. A statement on its website says: “Timed entry pass holders will be emailed instructions on how to reschedule their visit. Please continue to check this site for updates on the museum's operating status.”
Other Smithsonian sites, such as the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, charge for entry but are also closed.
The Smithsonian’s annual federal budget is about $1bn, which makes up two-thirds of its income, the rest coming from earned income and private sources. There were nearly 30 million visits to its museums and the National Zoo in 2017.
The Smithsonian estimates that it holds nearly 155 million objects, of which nearly 146 million are scientific specimens at the National Museum of Natural History.
The government shutdown is the result of an impasse between US president Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate, and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.