National Zoo, several DC museums to close amid rising COVID-19 cases

As COVID-19 cases rise around the region and across the U.S., a number of well-traveled D.C. destinations will be closing their doors to the public.

The National Gallery of Art will close Saturday, Nov. 21, with both the West Building and the Sculpture Garden closed. The museum said it was closing “out of an abundance of caution and in response” to the surge in coronavirus cases.

There isn’t a reopening date yet, but the museum said it will keep people posted.

Also around the National Mall and elsewhere in the region, all reopened Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will close to the public starting Monday, Nov. 23.

The upcoming closure impacts eight Smithsonian facilities that had reopened in the D.C. region:

  1. National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia
  2. National Museum of African American History and Culture
  3. National Museum of American History
  4. National Museum of the American Indian
  5. National Portrait Gallery
  6. National Zoo
  7. Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
  8. Smithsonian American Art Museum

“We don’t have a reopening date at this point. That really gives us the flexibility to continue to watch the data, monitor the situation very closely, because things continue to change so rapidly,” said Alise Fisher with the Smithsonian Institution.

The decision to close came as “a public health precaution because of the rising cases we’ve seen both regionally and nationally related to the pandemic,” Fisher said.

Visitors who had already reserved passes are being contacted directly, she added.

The Smithsonian announced the closure Thursday in a statement, saying, “The Institution’s top priority is to protect the health and safety of its visitors and staff. We will use this time to reassess, monitor and explore additional risk-mitigation measures.”

Later Thursday, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum announced that it will also close Monday. Visitors who have passes for after Sunday will be contacted.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report. 

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Teta Alim

Teta Alim is a Digital Editor at WTOP. Teta's interest in journalism started in music and moved to digital media.

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