Smithsonian reduces hours at zoo and most museums due to covid-related staff shortages

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Faced with ongoing staff shortages connected to the recent covid surge, the Smithsonian Institution will temporarily reduce public hours at most of its Washington museums and the National Zoo and close the National Air and Space Museum and the Anacostia Community Museum entirely from Wednesday through Jan. 17, officials said Monday.

The National Zoo, which had been open daily, will be open five days a week, as will the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which are among the most- visited Smithsonian museums. All will remain open on weekends.

The modified schedule, which also includes reduced hours, was announced Monday, when all Smithsonian facilities were closed because of snow. The new schedule comes after the Smithsonian closed five museums between Christmas and New Year’s because of the large number of security, facility and visitor services personnel who were out because of covid.

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“This modified schedule allows the Smithsonian to reposition key staff across its museums as needed while ensuring that museums remain open to the public each day of the week. Museums may have limited public entrances, and some exhibition spaces may be closed during this period to reduce the number of on-site staff needed,” the Smithsonian said in a statement posted on its website.

The Smithsonian Institution Building, known as the Castle, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, remain open daily.

Six other museums, including American Indian, American Art, Asian Art and the National Portrait Gallery, will be open four days, while the National Museum of African Art will open only on Saturdays and Sundays. The schedule for each museum can be found on the Smithsonian website.

After Jan. 17, the Smithsonian will assess its staffing needs and adjust the schedule as needed, officials said.

The Smithsonian’s New York museums — the National Museum of the American Indian and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum — are not affected.

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