Sequestration to force rolling closures of some Smithsonian art galleries

April 16, 2013

Art lovers and archivists will soon start to feel the bitter sting of sequestration, according to Congressional testimony given today by officials from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives and Records Administration.

As soon as May 1, the Smithsonian's art museums, which include the Hirshhorn, Freer and Sackler galleries, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, and National Portrait Gallery, will be forced to temporarily close certain exhibition galleries on a rolling basis; the museums themselves will remain open seven days a week. The Washington and College Park locations of the National Archives, which in the past have offered extended summer hours, will maintain their current hours.

• Smithsonian, National Archives adjusting summer hours because of budget cuts

According to Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas, the closures will affect only art museums, which had been using an outside contracting firm to supplement their security staffs. Tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the Hope Diamond at the National Museum of Natural History, or the 1903 Wright Flyer at the Air and Space Museum, for instance, will not be affected.

The exact start date of the rolling closures -- which will be determined on a day-by-day basis -- is uncertain, St.Thomas said, but it will not occur before May 1.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Michael O’Sullivan has worked since 1993 at The Washington Post, where he covers art, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture.
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Fritz Hahn · April 16, 2013