Visitors in town for inauguration day, take note: If you are looking for a place to warm up, grab a coffee and, ahem, use the facilities, the Smithsonian has your back.
The Smithsonian’s plans for Monday, Jan. 21 include early openings for several museums on the Mall. The Freer and Sackler galleries, and African Art and Hirshhorn museums, will open at 8 a.m. and stay open until 5:30 p.m. The Smithsonian Castle will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Take note, however, that all of those buildings, and the Air and Space Museum, will close all Mall-side entrances and will only be accessible via Independence Avenue. (The Air and Space Jefferson Drive exit will also be shuttered.)
The American Indian Museum will be closed for the inauguration; the Renwick Gallery will be closed on Jan. 21. Other museums will open regular hours and will welcome visitors to eat and use the restrooms during those times.
For those in search of food, the museum concessions to know include the following:
• Air and Space: McDonald’s McCafe, Boston Market, Donato’s Pizza.
• Natural History: Atrium Cafe, Cafe Natural, Fossil Cafe.
• American History: Stars and Stripes Cafe, Constitution Cafe.
• Smithsonian Castle: Cafe and Coffee Bar.
If you go, check out some of the highlights from the exhibitions and special events on tap:
• The American History Museum will host a (totally temperature-controlled) broadcast of the swearing-in at 11:30 a.m. in the Flag Hall. Afterward, be sure to visit the super-popular “The First Ladies” exhibition on the museum’s third floor; there, you’ll find two dozen gowns from Jacqueline Kennedy, Laura Bush and one fairly recent addition: Michelle Obama’s edgy Jason Wu inaugural gown from 2009.
• The National Portrait Gallery will display Shepard Fairey’s iconic collaged portrait of Barack Obama, and Chuck Close’s sprawling 2012 tapestries of the president’s visage on its second floor.
• In the days leading up to the inauguration, the Museum of the American Indian will host “Out of Many,” a three-day series of performances with musicians, storytellers and dancers from around the world. The festival will run Jan. 18-20.
UPDATE: The National Gallery of Art, which is not affiliated with the Smithsonian, has announced that the West Building, East Building, Sculpture Garden and its ice rink will be open as usual Jan. 19-20. On inauguration day, the West Building will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., while the other parts of the museum, including the East Building, will be closed. The West Building will accessible only via the entrances on Seventh Street and the Mall on Madison Drive.
Read more about inauguration on the Going Out Guide: