The National Museum of Natural History, one of the establishments administered by the Smithsonian. Image via Kamira /

The shutdown of the US government last month sent art and culture aficionados in a moment of panic—were the museums in Washington, DC going to close? They breathed a sigh of relief upon discovering that The Smithsonian still had sufficient “prior-year funds,” and that the National Gallery of Art had “unexpired two-year and no-year appropriations,” to last through the holidays.

Unfortunately, these funds have officially run out, according to The Washington Post.

Due to a shortage in government funding, all 17 of the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will close on Wednesday. The National Gallery of Art’s East and West buildings, along with its skating rink, will cease operations on Thursday. These establishments will be closed for an indefinite period.

The buildings follow the closures of the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum, and the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site—all of which closed their doors on 22 December 2018 following President Trump’s refusal to sign any bill without a US$5.7 billion funding to build a border wall.

With the tourist attractions shuttered, the city’s nonfederal museums are seizing the opportunities to woo new crowds. The Phillips Collection, the National Building Museum, the Woodrow Wilson House and President Lincoln’s Cottage are all offering federal workers with government IDs free admissions to their sites.

This marketing strategy was tried-and-tested by The Phillips Collection, which reported more than double its daily visitors during the government shutdown in 2013.

While the Smithsonian is on hiatus, renovations are still underway for some of its galleries in the National Air and Space Museum, confirmed Linda St. Thomas, a spokesperson for the institution.

Keep your fingers crossed that the shutdown will be brief. Meanwhile, art lovers can visit Google’s virtual museums, which replicate existing galleries and their artworks in great detail.

[via The Washington Post, cover image via Kamira /]

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