As coronavirus cases increase across the country, the Smithsonian will once again temporarily shut down eight of its Washington-area institutions on Monday.
“The establishment’s top priority is to protect the health and safety of its visitors and staff,” the Smithsonian said in a statement. “We will use this time to reassess, monitor and explore other risk mitigation measures.”
Seven museums and the National Zoo, which had all reopened on September 25, will close again, the statement said.
No reopening date has been announced.
The decision came as a second wave of closures was announced by museums in a number of states across the country. In recent days, officials in Oregon, Illinois and several other states have announced new virus restrictions that will force museums to close again, and several of Philadelphia’s top institutions, including the Philadelphia Museum. of Art, announced this week their intention to close again.
The Smithsonian Museums in New York, the Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center, have been closed to the public since March 14.
The Smithsonian had gradually reopened eight of its Washington-area institutions this summer, starting with the National Zoo and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Va., On July 24.
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,” Smithsonian secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III told the Washington Post at the time.
The National Museum of American History and the National Museum of American Indian reopened on September 25.
Like the rest of the country, the nation’s capital has seen an increase in the number of cases in recent weeks: 156 new cases of the coronavirus were reported in Washington on Wednesday, and the average of 155 daily cases was a 73% increase from at the figure of 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 start of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database.
The closures are the latest setback in a dark time for museums nationwide. An American Alliance of Museums survey released Tuesday found that nearly one in three museums in the United States remains closed due to the pandemic, and most of them have never reopened since the initial closure in March.
“The financial situation of American museums is going from bad to worse,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums, in a statement announcing the results of the investigation.
The Smithsonian said visitors who booked timed entry tickets would be contacted directly. Its outdoor gardens will remain open, no passes required.