Washington to close museums again as virus surges

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All Smithsonian facilities in Washington, D.C., will close to the public "due to rising regional and national cases" of COVID-19 cases, the Smithsonian Institution announced Thursday.

The museums and zoo previously closed in March, and had a limited reopening to the public in September.

No reopening date has been announced, "due to the changing nature of the situation". "We will use this time to reassess, monitor and explore additional risk-mitigation measures", the Smithsonian said in its news release. Almost all Denver museums, including the Clyfford Still Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, are performing mandated closures today, though the Denver Museum of Art will remain open, having received a variance from the state.

The news comes just days after the announced November 20 closures of Philadelphia institutions the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Barnes Foundation, the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

The Smithsonian Institution has 19 museums, nine research centers, and many affiliates around the world.

Like the rest of the country, the nation's capital has seen a surge in cases in the past few weeks: 156 new coronavirus cases were reported in Washington on Wednesday, and the average of 155 daily cases was a 73 percent increase from the figure two weeks earlier.

The closures are the latest setback in a grim period for the country's museums. Visitors were asked to reserve free timed-entry passes to visit most locations, as the locations were operating at reduced capacity.

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