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Shutdown 2013: Privately Funded Museums Stay Open in D.C. Despite U.S. Government Shutdown

Oct 01, 2013 7:51 am

Skift Take

The museums will get receive a boost in visitation under the worst pretenses possible. The government shutdown will put certain attractions in the spotlight as options shrink for tourists around the country.

— Samantha Shankman

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Sue Waters  / Flickr

Tourists walk out of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Sue Waters / Flickr


While museums on the National Mall are closed Tuesday due to a government shutdown, many other Washington attractions plan to stay open for tourists or keep partial operating hours to maintain programs.

The group Cultural Tourism DC said there will still be numerous arts and cultural options for visitors and residents. Steve Shulman, the group’s executive director, said the shutdown may give visitors a chance to see different sites than those on the mall.

Museums and attractions planning to stay open include the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Newseum, the International Spy Museum, National Geographic Museum, National Building Museum, The Phillips Collection, The Crime Museum and others.

Rebecca White, 35, and her husband Kevin White, 39, of Rochester, NY, were honeymooning in Washington on Tuesday and arrived at the American History museum only to find it closed. They said they were disappointed but would go to the Newseum or the International Spy Museum instead, two museums that aren’t run by the government and charge entrance fees, unlike the Smithsonian.

“We knew what was going on but we didn’t know this would be the result,” Kevin White said of the museum’s closed doors, which had printed signs reading “All Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed today due to the government shutdown.”

Some federal arts facilities pay for their programs with private funds, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Ford’s Theatre, the site where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. While daytime tours of both memorial sites are cancelled during the shutdown beginning Tuesday, the theaters will open for planned performances in the evening.

Daytime hours at the Kennedy Center will be cut back with the building closed to visitors until 5 p.m., according to spokesman John Dow. About 50 employees at the Kennedy Center are federal workers, and many of them will be furloughed.

Similarly, Ford’s Theatre and its museum will be closed to visitors by day but will open for performances of “The Laramie Project” in the evening, spokeswoman Lauren Beyea said.

Other options for visitors include an Art4All DC festival planned for this weekend. There are also more than 40 free tours of District of Columbia neighborhoods with the WalkingTown D.C. program through Cultural Tourism DC.

Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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