A Christmas tree decorated with iconic spacecraft is on view on the first floor of the Air and Space Museum (Eric Long/SI)
Some 500,000 festive and environmentally-friendly LED lights make up the displays at the National Zoo's Zoolights. (National Zoo)
Zoolights reopens on December 26 from 5-9 and free of charge. (National Zoo)
The Smithsonian's Castle Building is splendidly defined by the gracious garden designs in the Enid Haupt Garden (Smithsonian Institution)
All around the Smithsonian campus, the gardeners have been decorating with holiday cheer. (Smithsonian Institution)
A winter display cascades from the fountain in the Mary Ripley Garden near the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. (Smithsonian Institution)
A red, white and blue festooned tree marks the entrance to the Star-Spangled Banner exhibition. (National Museum of American History)
As the Museum of American History honors the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner, a Christmas tree is dressed in red, white and blue. (National Museum of American History)
Decorating the tree at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)

Christmas Day is the Only Day of the Year You Can’t Go to the Smithsonian

For those missing your Smithsonian fix, here’s some holiday cheer until the doors open on December 26

smithsonian.com

There is only one scheduled day of the year when the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo close their doors and lock the gates. With the exception of random snowstorms and last year's government shutdown, the Washington, D.C and New York City museums and the National Zoo are open 364 days of the year, but on December 25, the Smithsonian goes dark. 

For those 24 hours, not a single artifact can be viewed, no Wright Flyer, no Hope Diamond, no Ruby Slippers and no panda cubs.  The guards, the staff, the docents all take a day off to spend with family and friends. (Don't worry, a crew of dedicated animal keepers do staff and care for the animals at the Zoo.)

For museum fans waiting out the day, we've put together a few images of Smithsonian holiday cheer to tide you over until December 26 when the museums on the National Mall open at 10 in the morning, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery on 7th Street, N.W., open at 11:30; and the grounds of the National Zoo open at 6 a.m. with the exhibit buildings welcoming visitors at 10 a.m. And later in the evening from 5 until 9 p.m., the Zoo's festive (and FREE!) display of more than 500,000 LED twinkle lights, or  Zoolights, is back on in full blaze and splendor.

About Beth Py-Lieberman
Beth Py-Lieberman

Beth Py-Lieberman is the museums editor, covering exhibitions, events and happenings at the Smithsonian Institution. She has been a member of the Smithsonian team for more than two decades.

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