Zoo, Seven Smithsonian Museums Reopen in May

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File Photo: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo

The Smithsonian will reopen eight of its facilities to the public in May, starting with the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Wednesday, May 5.

The Portrait Gallery, Renwick, American Art and Museum of African Art and Culture open Friday, May 14. The Zoo and the Museums of American History and History of the American Indian will open Friday, May 21.

The Smithsonian closed its museums in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between July and October 2020, the Smithsonian opened eight of its facilities before closing to the public again Nov. 23.

The reopening of these eight locations is the beginning of a phased reopening process for the institution. All other Smithsonian museums remain temporarily closed to the public, and the institution said it is not announcing additional reopening dates at this time.

All locations will reopen with added health and safety measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors will need to reserve free timed-entry passes for all locations. All other Smithsonian museums will remain temporarily closed to the public. See below for details.

Reopening Schedule

Wednesday, May 5

·         Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Friday, May 14

·         National Museum of African American History and Culture

·         National Portrait Gallery

·         Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery

Friday, May 21

·         National Museum of American History

·         National Museum of the American Indian (DC location)

·         National Zoo

Photo: Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

Safety Measures 

To protect the health of visitors and staff, safety measures based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other sources will include:

·         Requesting that all visitors who are sick or do not feel well stay home.

·         Requiring visitors ages 2 and older to wear face coverings during their visit.

·         Closely monitoring and limiting the number of people in each location. Visitors will need to obtain a free timed-entry pass in advance of their visit.

·         Implementing safe social distancing, including one-way paths and directional guidance where appropriate.

·         Providing hand-sanitizing stations for visitors and conducting enhanced cleaning throughout all facilities.

·         Museum cafes will not be open at this time. Restaurants and food trucks at the National Zoo will be open.

All on-site public tours and events are temporarily suspended. Some exhibits, galleries, interactives, theaters, retail shops or indoor spaces may be closed or operating at limited capacity. Detailed information for visitors is available on the individual museum websites.

Museum Hours and Information 

Some locations will open with reduced hours of operation.

·         Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: open daily 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

·         National Museum of African American History and Culture: open Wednesday to Sunday 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

·         Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, both located at Eighth and G streets N.W.: open Wednesday to Sunday 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Visitors will use the G Street entrance.

·         Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, near the White House: open Wednesday to Sunday 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

·         National Museum of American History: open Friday to Tuesday 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

·         National Museum of the American Indian: open Wednesday to Sunday 11 a.m.­–4 p.m.

·         National Zoo: open daily 8 a.m.–4 p.m.

A zoo employee stands in the background of the signs and roped-off entry path at the National Zoo, Sept 2020. Photo: S. Payne

Timed-Entry Passes 

Visitors will need to obtain a free timed-entry pass for each location. Beginning today, April 23, visitors can reserve passes for the Udvar-Hazy Center. Passes for other locations will become available starting a week before their scheduled openings. Visitors driving to the Zoo who wish to park must purchase parking in advance as well. Visitors can reserve passes online at si.edu/visit or by phone at 1-800-514-3849, ext. 1.

An individual will be able to reserve up to six passes per day for a specific location. Each visitor must have a pass, regardless of age.

For the safety of visitors and staff, groups larger than six are strictly prohibited, and at least one adult chaperone is required to accompany up to five children under the age of 18.

Updates and information about the museums open to the public are available at si.edu/visit.