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What’s open, what’s closed during Christmas shutdown?

A sign at the Lincoln Memorial during a brief government shutdown in January 2018 informs visitors that National Park Service is unable to staff or maintain NPS properties. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON — Since lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on a budget deal Friday, the lights get turned off at some key federal agencies. But you can still catch the festive holiday lights at the National Zoo. And take a stroll through the Smithsonian museums.

The Smithsonian Institution said Friday all of its museums as well as the National Zoo would remain open despite the partial government shutdown.

Smithsonian said it can use leftover funding to keep the museums and the zoo open though Jan. 1. However, note that ZooLights is already scheduled to be closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31 and all Smithsonian museums are closed Christmas Day as well.

The partial government shutdown does not apply to some large government agencies, such as the Defense Department. Key government operations, such as the U.S. Postal Service, airport screen by the Transportation Security Administration, are also not affected.

See more frequently asked questions about the partial shutdown answered here.

What about other parts of the National Mall?

Overall, about 80 percent of the National Park Service staff will be furloughed, meaning some parks and monuments will close. During a 16-day shutdown in October 2013, park service staff even went so far as to roll out barricades and “Closed” signs on such iconic spots as the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

However, during a brief two-day shutdown earlier this year, the park service maintained public access to monuments. That plan appears to remain in effect.

D.C.-area national parks will stay as accessible as possible, the National Park Service said. Open-air memorials, including the National Mall, are still accessible to visitors but services are limited or closed all together. Services like restrooms, visitor centers, information kiosks, and ranger talks and educations programs are not available during the shutdown.

The following sites in the D.C. area are closed:

  • Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial (previous closure for rehabilitation)
  • Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument
  • Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site
  • Clara Barton National Historic Site
  • Daingerfield Island restaurant, Triple Craft (previous closure)
  • Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site (Ford’s Theatre Society will continue to offer performances in the theater as scheduled)
  • Fort Marcy
  • Fort Washington Park entrance road and visitor center
  • Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
  • Great Falls (Md.) entrance road and visitor center
  • Old Post Office Tower
  • Olmsted Island/Great Falls Overlook (Md.)
  • Great Falls (Va.) entrance road and visitor center
  • Hains Point
  • Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
  • Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site
  • Oxon Hill Farm
  • Peirce Mill
  • Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium
  • Rock Creek golf course (seasonal closure)
  • Turkey Run Park (gated areas)
  • Washington Monument (previous closure for elevator modernization)
  • White House Visitor Center

The National Park Service social media and websites are also not being monitored or updated.

The U.S. National Archives facilities is closed for the duration of the shutdown and all planned activities are canceled. Their social media activity is also put on hold until the government is funded.

The D.C. government and the services it provides are not be affected by a shutdown. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the District’s Department of Public Works will take on some of the duties of the park service, such as emptying wastebaskets along the National Mall. If there’s bad weather, D.C. will also treat and clear roadways usually maintained by the park service.


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