The Smithsonian will reopen two of its facilities to the public Friday, July 24: the National Zoo in Northwest Washington, D.C., and the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport. These locations will reopen with new health and safety measures in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors will be required to obtain free, timed-entry passes for both locations. All other Smithsonian museums will remain temporarily closed to the public.
“As a public entity, we thrive on serving our visitors and making our collections readily available to them, virtually and in person,” said Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian. “However, the safety and well-being of our staff, visitors and volunteers come first and are paramount, so we are taking a deliberate, phased and cautious approach to reopening. Our goal is to be safe and measured in order to adjust and pivot as necessary.”
The National Zoo will be open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, and the Udvar-Hazy Center will be open 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. daily. To protect the health of visitors, staff and animals, new safety measures based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other sources will include:
Requesting that all visitors who are sick or do not feel well stay home.
Requiring that visitors ages six and older wear face coverings during their visit—inside the Udvar-Hazy Center and Zoo buildings as well as in Zoo outdoor spaces. Face coverings are also strongly recommended for visitors between the ages of two and six, per CDC guidelines.
Limiting the number of people in each facility by requiring all visitors to obtain a free, timed-entry pass in advance of their visit. Beginning today, July 20, visitors can reserve passes online or by phone and select the desired date and time for their visit. The Smithsonian will release 5,000 timed passes per day for the Zoo and about 1,500 passes per day for the Udvar-Hazy Center. Those numbers may change over time.
Implementing safe social distancing, including some one-way paths and directional guidance where appropriate.
Providing hand-sanitizing stations for visitors and conducting enhanced cleaning throughout both facilities.
Restrooms will be open. Outdoor concessions and retail kiosks will be open at the Zoo. Indoor concessions and retail will not be open at the Udvar-Hazy Center, but food trucks will be on-site, pending availability.
All on-site public tours and events are temporarily suspended. Some exhibits, interactives, rides, demonstrations, theaters or indoor spaces may be closed or operate at limited capacity, including some indoor spaces and artifacts unavailable at the Udvar-Hazy Center due to a previously planned roof-reconstruction project. Detailed information for visitors is available on the National Zoo’s website and the National Air and Space Museum’s website.
All Smithsonian visitors will need to obtain a free, timed-entry pass to enter the Zoo and the Udvar-Hazy Center. Visitors can reserve passes online at si.edu/tickets or by phone at 1-800-514-3849, ext. 1. An individual will be able to reserve up to six passes. Visitors can choose to print timed-entry passes at home or show a digital timed-entry pass on their mobile device. Each visitor must have a pass regardless of age.
Visitors who plan to drive and park at the Zoo can purchase a parking pass that serves as a timed-entry pass for all people in the vehicle; they will not need to separately reserve individual timed-entry passes. Vehicles may only enter the Zoo through the Connecticut Avenue entrance.
At the Udvar-Hazy Center, visitors can pay for parking as they depart.
Reopening the Smithsonian
The opening of the National Zoo and the Udvar-Hazy Center marks the beginning of a phased reopening strategy for the Smithsonian. These first two locations were chosen based on factors such as the ability to facilitate crowd management and social distancing, the ability to maintain a hygienic environment and availability of parking at both locations. The National Zoo is a 163-acre outdoor park, and the Udvar-Hazy Center consists of two large hangars totaling more than 300,000 square feet of exhibition space.
The Smithsonian is not announcing a reopening date for its other museums at this time. The reopening of these first two facilities will provide an opportunity to improve new processes and learn from the visitor experience, with the goal of opening additional museums in the following months. Updates will be available on si.edu and via Facebook and Twitter @Smithsonian.
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