Shutdown to close DC museums including Smithsonian by midweek

A view of the National Museum of Natural History from the Washington Monument. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

A view of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History from the Washington Monument. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Museums and galleries popular with visitors and locals in the nation’s capital will close starting midweek if the partial shutdown of the federal government drags on. So will the National Zoo and a lively ice rink near the National Mall.

The attractions have stayed open by using unspent funds, but they are about to run out.

Museums and galleries under the Smithsonian Institution umbrella will be open on New Year’s Day but will close starting Jan. 2. That includes the zoo, as well as the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of Natural History (shown at top of page), and several galleries.

The National Gallery of Art will close starting Jan. 3, a spokeswoman said. That includes the iconic West and East buildings as well as an ice rink in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden that is a favorite with families. National Gallery of Art facilities are usually closed on New Year’s Day.

The shutdown also is affecting national parks, although unevenly. Some remain accessible with bare-bones staffing levels, some are operating with money from states or charitable groups and others are locked off.

With no resolution in sight, the shutdown is forcing hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors to stay home or work without pay.

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