DC tourist sites open during the shutdown


Normally, if you were a government employee with an unexpected (and unpaid) day off, visiting a Smithsonian museum or a National Park Service memorial would be a good way to kill time. Unfortunately, those aren’t options this week; they are closed due to the government shutdown.

But not everything is closed in Washington. Here are seven attractions that remain open, either because they are private institutions or because they are run by parts of the government that are still operating.

Engraving and printing office

Engraving and printing office

Tim Evanson/Flickr

1. Engraving and printing office

What is that? The government agency that produces paper money. He offers tours.

What’s there? According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing website, “You will see millions of dollars printed on a tour of the BEP. The tour introduces the various stages of coinage production, starting with large sheets of blank paper and ending with a wallet – invoices ready!”

Why is it open? The BEP literally prints money, so it is not at the mercy of Congressional appropriations.

How much does it cost? Free.

When can I leave? Visiting hours are listed here. A The BEP employee told me they weren’t exceptionally busy today, but she expects traffic to pick up later in the week.

Phillips Collection Gallery

Phillips collection

Robert Lautman / Phillips Collection

2. The Phillips Collection

What is that? “America’s first museum of modern art.”

What’s there? Modern Art. Currently, the Phillips is preparing to launch Washington DC’s first Van Gogh exhibit in 15 years. It will open on October 11, even though the federal government has not.

Why is it open? It is a private museum.

How much does it cost? Normally $12, but the museum is offering free admission through Friday and offering a 50% discount to federal employees with valid ID at its cafe.

When can I leave? Every day except Monday; hours vary.

Corcoran Gallery Art Museum

Corcoran Gallery

Benoit Prior / Wikimedia Commons

3. The Corcoran Art Gallery

What is that? Probably the most important non-governmental art museum in Washington DC.

What’s there? The Corcoran is “internationally recognized for a distinguished collection of historic and modern American art as well as contemporary art, photography, European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts”.

Why is it open? Because it’s not part of the government. This didn’t stop the politicians to demand the cancellation of an exhibition of sexually explicit photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1989, but at least Is means the shutdown does not affect operations today.

How much does it cost? $10.

When can I leave? Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours until 9 p.m. Wednesday. Information for visitors is here.

big room

National Building Museum

Kevin Allen / National Building Museum

4. National Building Museum

What is that? “America’s premier cultural institution devoted to the history and impact of the built environment.”

What’s there? Unfortunately, the NBM indoor mini golf the season ended on Labor Day. But you can still see the Green Schools exhibit, which “will look at several examples of what’s possible in green school design and provide resources for all of us to consider as we plan to build the next generation. of school buildings”. This is what you were really looking for, isn’t it?

Why is it open? Although licensed by Congress, the museum is a private, nonprofit organization.

How much does it cost? Normally $8, but admission is free for government employees during the shutdown. Score!

When can I leave? Every day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information here.


Eccles Building

Federal Reserve

5. The Eccles building, headquarters of the Federal Reserve Board

What is that? Where Jack Lew will have to bring the platinum coin if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by October 17.

What’s there? Fed Headquarters tours that aredesigned for students and adults with a research interest in the Federal Reserve.” Unfortunately, you must assemble a group of at least 10 people and arrange the visit at least two weeks in advance. It is therefore only a good option if you expect a long shutdown. The art exhibitions in the Eccles Building are also open to the public with only one week advance booking; information here.

Why is it open? The Federal Reserve is funded by its own investing activities and does not depend on congressional appropriations.

How much does it cost? Free with prior reservation.


HP New Media Gallery at the Newseum

Sam Kittner/Newseum

6. Newseum

What is that? A museum that “provides visitors with an experience that blends five centuries of current history with state-of-the-art technology and hands-on exhibits.”

What’s there? A variety of current affairs related exhibits, many of which are interactive. You can read about them here.

Why is it open? It is a private non-profit association.

How much does it cost? $22

When can I leave? Every day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information here.


Arlington National Cemetery

Francisco Diez / Flickr

7. Arlington National Cemetery

What is that? The largest cemetery for American military veterans and their families, built on the former estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

What’s there? 624 acres of land including Lee’s former home (Arlington House) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Why is it open? Military installations generally remain open during government shutdowns. However, some aspects of the ANC are closed: you cannot visit Arlington House and there are no tours.

How much does it cost? FREE ENTRANCE.

When can I leave? Daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

An earlier version of this message stated that Ford’s Theater was open during the shutdown. Alas, the theater is closed even though it is privately owned as it is operated in conjunction with the National Park Service. Some scheduled performances at the theater were moved to other venues; information is available on their website.


About Author

Comments are closed.