Smithsonian Institution Closing 19 D.C. Museums, National Zoo amid Coronavirus Outbreak

A sign announces a temporarily closure on March 14 due to COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. - The Smithsonian museums will temporarily close on March 14 due to COVID-19, known as the coronavirus. (Photo by SAUL …
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The Smithsonian Institution announced on Thursday that 19 museums in Washington, DC, and the National Zoo will close starting on Saturday because of the novel coronavirus.

Two Smithsonian museums in New York City — the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the American Indian Museum’s Heye Center — also will close down.

The staff and administrators have been asked to work from home, but this will not include staff tasked with operating and maintaining the museums.

The museum wrote about the closures in its magazine, citing that “health and safety of Smithsonian visitors, staff and volunteers is top priority.”

Smithsonian Magazine reported on the development:

A reopening date was not announced and the statement said that officials will provide updates on a week-to-week basis, asking visitors to check its websites, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter messages.

This decision was made in an effort to limit large gatherings of people, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and New York City escalate. Zoo officials announced that staff will continue to care for and monitor the health and well-being of the animals.

This closure affects some of the nation’s largest museums including the National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture located on the National Mall as well as the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery located at 7th and F Streets, N.W.

According to Statista, about 30 million people visit Smithsonian museums each year.

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