Editor's Note, 6:30 p.m.: Smithsonian Institution officials announced all museums in Washington, D.C. and in New York City, including the National Zoo will close temporarily starting Saturday, March 14, 2020. See our article "Smithsonian Museums to Close Amid Coronavirus Outbreak."
Smithsonian officials announced today the postponement and cancelation of all public programs, events, rentals and gatherings through May 3, 2020 as a public health precaution in an effort to limit large gatherings of people amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City, along with the National Zoo will remain open through Friday, March 13 and operate during their regularly scheduled hours. Several hands-on museum exhibition spaces and kiosks, however, will be shut down, including Wegmans Wonderplace and the Draper Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History. Smithsonian spokesperson Linda St. Thomas notes that "walking around our vast Smithsonian museums is a different experience than sitting in close proximity in places like theaters."
Among the cancelled and postponed is the April 21 through 25 Earth Optimisim seminar seminar, Smithsonian magazine's Museum Day which was set for April 4 and all of the programming created by the Smithsonian Associates. Noting that the health and well-being of visitors was a top priority, Smithsonian Associates director Frederica Adelman said cancelled programs—with authors Erik Larson, Judith Viorst and Kathy Reichs—were being rescheduled for late May and throughout the summer. "We're also planning new studio art classes, visits to an observatory, a lecture on Galileo with astrophysicist Mario Livio, and discussions with scientists about global health and climate change," she says.
The Smithsonian will notify ticket holders and those registered for the impacted events of the cancelations, rescheduling opportunities and the refund process. The Earth Optimism seminar will now be held as a digital event with the same speakers and the same content.
Officials say that they will continue to monitor the situation and are following the guidance of the CDC as well as local public health officials. For more updates, visitors can refer to si.edu/events, and can find the latest information on calendar of events and websites of specific museums.