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Museums and Theatre Offer Shutdown Entertainment, Discounts

As the shutdown drags on, the (free!) Smithsonian Museums are still closed. But many other museums and theatres are open for business and some are offering steep discounts and even free tickets to Federal workers at lose ends during the furlough. Check out our listing below.

The National Museum of the U.S. Navy at the Washington Navy Yard

Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, the museum is open to the public. Visitors without a DoD CAC, Uniformed ID and Privileges Card, USG-issued ID, Federal PIV Credentials, TWIC, or an escort with one of these credentials must report to the Visitor Control Center (VCC) at the primary access gate at 11th and O Streets SE (1022 O Street SE, Washington, DC). The VCC is open weekdays, 6:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


The Newseum (555 Pensylvania Ave NW) is offering discounted entry to Federal Workers. Photo: Maria Bryk

The Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) is offering 15 percent discount on online ticket purchases during the shutdown, making entry $21.21 for adults and $12.71 for kids 7 to 18. You can save your ticket and return the next day –all tickets are good for two consecutive days.

The Newseum highlights the old and latest in journalism and news. Current exhibits look back the Civil Rights movement in 1968, segments of the Berlin Wall and the editorial cartoons of Michael Sloan and Jake Halpern.

Museum of the Bible
The Museum of the Bible (400 4th St. SW) opened late last year, a $500 million project designed to invite all people to engage with the Bible that was funded by the owners of the Hobby Lobby and as large as some of the Smithsonian museums.  Exhibits include a six-minute ride that showcases biblical imagery around Washington DC, a theater, and an exhibit on the role of the Bible in the Atlantic slave trade. Tickets for children over 7 are $9.99 online, $14.99 at the door; regular adult tickets are $19.99 online and $24.99 at the door.

Nan Raphael’s ‘Pretty in Pink’ is one piece featured in New Beginnings at The Corner Store Arts (900 South Carolina Ave. SE). Courtesy: K. Cohen/The Corner Store Arts

Corner Store Arts

Corner Store Arts (900 South Carolina Ave SE) is a gallery and events space near Eastern Market. Here you can attend story-telling and poetry events in addition to live musical performances. Every month, newly appointed Program Director Karen Cohen hosts a monthly series of classical music with tea and scones and programs brand-new art and entertainment showcasing local talent.

From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday January 12, attend the gallery reception for this month’s exhibit, entitled “New Beginnings-One Foot at a Time.” The group art exhibit features two-dimensional mixed media-artwork smaller than one foot in size. The show runs from Jan. 6 to 31.

On Thursday, Jan. 24th from 6 to 7 p.m.  Bring three of your favorite dance tunes and join the Happy Hour Dance Party with Iris for an hour of joyful motion. A $5 donation is welcome at the door. Contact Iris for details. 

The National Building Museum

The National Building Museum (401 F St. NW) is a kid favorite. Focusing on the history and impact of the built environment, the museum tells stories of architecture, engineering and design. Current exhibitions explore the history of the movies in Baltimore, the ‘secret cities’ of the Manhattan Project, and different ideas of house and home in America, in addition to the kid favorite Building Zone and Play Work Build immersive play installations. Employees with federal ID receive free admission during the government shutdown. Regular tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for seniors, students and children aged 3 to 7 years.

The Phillips Collection

The Phillips Collection (1600 21st St. NW) will give government employees free admission for the entirety of the shutdown. See works by masters including Rothko, O’Keeffe, Renoir, and Van Gogh as well as the current special exhibition, Nordic Impressions. The exhibit includes art from Åland, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden from 1821 to the present. Just show your government employee I.D. badge at the admissions desk.

Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership

Directly across the street from Ford’s Theatre and on the Ford’s Theatre campus, the Center for Education and Leadership features two floors of permanent exhibits about the immediate aftermath of Lincoln’s death including the hunt for assassin John Wilkes Booth, and the evolution of Lincoln’s legacy. The latter is dramatically illustrated by a 34-foot tower made entirely of Lincoln books in the central lobby. The offer is good until Tuesday, Feb. 22.


Shakespeare Theatre Company

Furloughed federal employees can take advantage of FREE tickets to the Shakespeare Theatre Company (610 F St. NW) production of Richard III. STC is offering FREE tickets to Federal government employees affected by the government shutdown for our production of Richard the Third. This offer is good for any performance February 5-10.

Director David Muse said the production is a timely one. “It’s a great play for now. It’s about a heartless man, a con artist, a man obsessed with winning and power, a misogynist, a spinner of news and misinformation, a man who thrives by beating others, a man who uses and discards people,” he said. “It’s about how a country responds to a leader like this. We watch people negotiate with their own mortality, align themselves with power and resist secretly if at all.”

Use promo code FEDERAL19 when reserving tickets. Tickets may be ordered online, by phone at 202-547-1122 or at the box office. A valid Federal ID is required when picking up tickets at the box office.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts (2700 F St. NW) is a public trust. Performances will go on as scheduled during the shutdown, but building opening hours are curtailed. Furloughed federal workers can get discounted tickets to many of the shows on during the shutdown. Get a $20 discount on tickets to see American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) Harlequinade in the Kennedy Center Opera House. ABT’s star-studded roster of dancers, combined with the dynamic vision of Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky (Whipped Cream, Serenade after Plato’s Symposium), has garnered critical acclaim for the company across global audiences.

You can also save on tickets to see Matthew Bourne’s adaptation of Cinderella. Known for his dazzling adaptation of the Red Shoes in 2017, Bourne returns with a thrilling twist on Cinderella. Tickets are as low as $39 for the Friday Matinee and $49 for the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening performances at the John F. Kennedy Center.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre

Purchase tickets online using promo code SHUTDOWN to get 15 percent off tickets to playwright Aziza Barnes’s newest work BLKS at the Wooly Mammoth Theatre (641 D St. NW). Three twentysomething black women have an epic night on the town full of hilarious and outrageous encounters. Show federal ID when you collect tickets. The show runs from Feb 4 to March 3. Regular price: $20-$41; with discount: $17-$34.85.

Studio Theatre

You can get discounts on two of the shows offered at Studio Theatre (1501 14th Street NW) Using the code DCisOPEN and showing federal ID at pickup gets you 20 percent off tickets for two shows: Kings or the first week of new show Admissions.

Kings is a timely comedy about a newbie congresswoman who won’t follow the rules set down by lobbyists or her own party. Written by the author of Bad Jews and debuting Jan. 16th, Admissions looks at privilege, power and the perils of whiteness.
Purchase discounted tickets online before Jan. 23.


Arena Stage (1101 Sixth St. SW) is offering furloughed federal workers free and discounted tickets to shows, including The Heiress, opening Feb. 8. Courtesy: Arena Stage

Arena Stage

Arena Stage is offering both FREE and discounted tickets to select performances of Kleptocracy (Jan 10 to 13) and The Heiress (Feb. 8 to 13). A limited number of free tickets are available on a first-come, first -served basis. Enter promo code ARENAFREE to see available dates and seats.

A 40% discount to select showings of both shows is available using code GVT40.

Written by Kenneth Lin (House of Cards), turns the spotlight on US-Russia relations during the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a new class of robber barons brinks Russia into a terrifying new age, the richest and most ruthless is confronted by a young Vladimir Putin.

In The Heiress, Catherine Sloper finds her way from under the disapproving gaze of her father. An unexpected suitor, hopes of true love and devastating betrayal help her find her voice, her truth and to take control of her destiny.

Tickets purchased using the furloughed codes must be claimed at Will Call with valid government I.D

Miracle Theatre

The Barracks Row movie theatre is offering $5 tickets to any furloughed Federal Employee. Discounted tickets should be purchased at the box office at Miracle Theatre (535 Eighth St. SE) with federal government identification. The theatre is currently showing smash success A Star is Born, children’s film Ralph Breaks the Internet and Bohemian Rhapsody –with a Friday night sing-a-long.


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