As the number of coronavirus cases surge across the country, the Smithsonian will again temporarily close eight of its facilities in the Washington area on Monday.
“The institution’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of its visitors and employees,” the Smithsonian said in a statement. “We will use this time to reevaluate, monitor and investigate additional risk reduction measures.”
Seven museums and the National Zoo that had all reopened by September 25th, will be closed again, says the statement.
No reopening date has been announced.
The New York Smithsonian Museums, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and the National Museum of the George Gustav Heye Native American Center have been closed to the public since March 14th.
The Smithsonian had gradually reopened eight of its facilities in the Washington area that summer, beginning with the National Zoo and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia on July 24th.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Renwick Gallery followed later on September 18. “We haven’t had any staff infections, which means our security protocols are working. The Smithsonian’s Secretary, Lonnie G. Bunch III, said the Washington Post at the time.
The National Museum of American History and the National Museum of the American Indian reopened on September 25th.
Like the rest of the country, the country’s capital has seen a surge in cases in recent weeks: 156 new coronavirus cases were reported in Washington on Wednesday, and the average of 155 daily cases was a 73 percent increase from the figure two weeks earlier.
As of Thursday afternoon, at least 19,678 cases of coronavirus had been reported and at least 667 people had died in Washington since the pandemic began. According to a database from the New York Times.
The closings are the latest setback in a dismal time for the country’s museums. A poll by the American Alliance of Museums Published Tuesday found that almost every third museum in the United States remains closed because of the pandemic and that most of them have never opened again since they first closed in March.
“The financial situation of US museums is deteriorating,” said Laura Lott, president and executive director of the American Alliance of Museums, in a statement in which the survey results were announced.
The Smithsonian said visitors who had reserved tickets for timed entry would be contacted directly. The outdoor gardens remain open, no IDs are required.