Finally, an end is in sight.
After shutting down its operations more than three weeks ago as a result of the U.S. government shutdown, the Smithsonian Institution issued a statement on Friday evening saying that it is planning to reopen its museums on Tuesday, January 29. The news follows President Trump’s announcement earlier today that he would be willing to allow the government to reopen even without receiving funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
If the Smithsonian gets back to business on Tuesday, the total shutdown for the organization will have clocked in at 27 days. During that time, its employees have been either furloughed or worked without pay, some temporary exhibitions have gone off view, and the openings of others have had to be delayed. Some artists with exhibitions running there—like Sean Scully, Dawoud Bey, and others—criticized the shutdown shortly after it began.
Among the shows that have sat without any visitors is a Charline von Heyl retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., that has an end date of this Sunday.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington, which is not part of the Smithsonian, has not yet said when it will reopen. Since its closure, which began on January 3, a day after the Smithsonian’s, the end date of a Rachel Whiteread retrospective passed, and the Washington Post reported that a blockbuster Tintoretto show planned for March was at risk of being delayed.
As of Friday night, the government has been partially closed for 34 days and counting. The Smithsonian and National Gallery had initially managed to avoid closing until January 2 and January 3, respectively, at which point they ran low on funds and shuttered.
In his comments today, President Trump said he supported reopening the government for three weeks, until February 15, so that its activities could resume while debate continued about border security. If new spending measures are not adopted after those three weeks, parts of the federal government, including the Smithsonian and NGA, could shut down once more.
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