Smithsonian to shut museums, National Zoo amid COVID-19 spike

Lawrence Kim
November 22, 2020

The Smithsonian Institution, a world-renowned U.S.museum and research complex, said on Thursday it will temporarily close all its museums and the National Zoo located in Washington, D.C. beginning on November 23 due to surging COVID-19 cases.

The museums had just reopened in September with reduced capacity.

"The Institution's top priority is to protect the health and safety of its visitors and staff", the Smithsonian said in a statement. Almost all Denver museums, including the Clyfford Still Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, are performing mandated closures today, though the Denver Museum of Art will remain open, having received a variance from the state.

Resurgent virus cases have forced a new closure of major museums and the zoo in Washington, officials said Thursday, hitting the brakes on the US capital's cautious and limited resumption of activity.

Second-wave Covid-19 closures further imperil the nation's museums, many of which are operating on wafer-thin margins, and some of which may not reopen in the wake of the crisis unless measures are taken by state and federal governments.

The institute, which runs museums including the National Air and Space Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, said it is not announcing a reopening date for the facilities at this time.

Moreover, 213 newly confirmed cases brings the total to 19,678, and two additional deaths raises the toll to 667. A survey by the American Alliance of Museums published Tuesday found that almost one in three museums in the United States remains closed because of the pandemic, and that most of those have never reopened since the initial shutdown in March. Its outdoor gardens will remain open, no passes required.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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