Smithsonian counts fewer visitors than usual over Thanksgiving weekend


Giant panda Tian Tian, pride of the National Zoo, had about 30,000 visitors over Thanksgiving weekend. (Karen Bleier/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Over the four day weekend, according to the Smithsonian, the museums clicked through 358, 500 visitors, compared to 418, 000 in 2010.

Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said last year at this time the museums had more special exhibitions. That would mean the much-talked-about “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” The show’s subject of sexual identity by some of American’s best known painters was an immediate draw but the Smithsonian added to the curiosity when it pulled a video of gay artist David Wojnarowicz from the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Also last year throngs went to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit that was drawn from the private collections of filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. This year’s favorite art show was apparently “Andy Warhol: Shadows” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, drawing 9, 500 visitors to the museum up from 7, 400 last year.

And everyone’s favorite jewel, the Hope Diamond, was displayed last year in a new setting at the National Museum of Natural History.

But this year balmy weather also played a major part in where people went. The National Zoo, one of the Smithsonian’s 19 centers, saw a huge increase in traffic. Only 14,000 strolled through last year; last weekend 30,000 did the tour.

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