Museums cannot reopen until DC gets phase two of its reopening plan, which will happen after the District has contained the coronavirus to localized transmission. Even if that happens this summer, don’t expect visits to DC’s most famous museums to feel anything like they did before the pandemic.
The Smithsonian Institution will open in stages, spokesperson Linda St. Thomas tells Washingtonian, and it will begin with a only a few museums–“a very modest opening,” she says, “date to be determined.” The District’s phase-two plan allows for five people per 1,000 square feet of public buildings, with a maximum of 50 percent capacity, something St. Thomas says “will be consistent with what we will do when reopening any museum.”
“Safety of our visitors is our number one priority,” St. Thomas says in a statement. “People will see changes in the museums such as hand sanitizing stations throughout the building; a maintenance staff working throughout the day in keeping with CDC guidelines for large public spaces; and staff and visitors wearing face masks.” Other things you may encounter: Fewer entrances, and staff who’ll make sure visitors follow social distancing and other protocols.
It’s still unclear how things be in Smithsonian’s outdoor spaces, like the National Zoo or Smithsonian Gardens. A zoo spokesperson says it, too, has no plans ready to share. St. Thomas says the institution’s reopening committee will advise Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III and Deputy Secretary Meroë Park. A spokesperson for the National Gallery of Art, which is also on the Mall but not part of the Smithsonian, says it has nothing yet to announce about reopening.