Filed Under:

Congressional Impasse Leaves Museums Empty, Monuments Shut

Play associated audio

Federal bureaucracies aren't the only ones scaling back operations during the government shutdown. It's also meant that kids couldn't take field trips to the Smithsonian.

In fact most of the popular Washington attractions funded by the government are closed. That includes the Smithsonian's 19 museums and the National Zoo, plus Ford's Theatre and the National Gallery of Art.

Christy Agor is on maternity leave from her job at the State Department. She admits that as a federal worker she should have known the National Zoo would be closed Tuesday. The zoo is part of the federally funded Smithsonian.

"The poor animals are getting furloughed as well," she says. "It's really too bad."

For visitors from out of town, the shutdown is a major annoyance. Xiao Xiao Hong made the trip from her home in Connecticut, along with a friend visiting from Beijing. The two were looking forward to seeing the zoo's giant pandas — the latest participants in a cultural exchange begun with a landmark diplomatic gift from China to the U.S. in 1972. Hong says about half of the places they wanted to visit in Washington are closed.

"It's just unfortunate because we've never been to D.C. before," she says.

Even though most of the Smithsonian's employees are not working today, all of the animals at the zoo will be cared for. But none of the Smithsonian's facilities are open to the public.

"It means we disappoint a lot of tourists," says Smithsonian spokesperson Linda St. Thomas. "Last week we had 400,000 people here. And today we have signs saying we're closed due to the government shutdown."

Even the "panda cam" is turned off.

"The panda cam and [other] animal cams are also shut down because they're run by employees who work in buildings that are now closed," St. Thomas explains.

The National Park Service is also shut down. That means hundreds of sites it maintains around the country are closed — Ford's Theatre, Yosemite National Park, the Statue of Liberty and Civil War battlefields, among them.

But some people aren't letting the shutdown get in the way of their mission to visit American monuments.

This morning a group of World War II veterans arrived as part of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight, which sends veterans, free of charge, to Washington to visit war memorials. When the veterans got to the World War II memorial — a sprawling open-air monument on the National Mall — it was barricaded.

The veterans, many in their 80s and 90s, reportedly pushed the barricades aside ... and were eventually allowed through.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Lisa Lucas Takes The Reins At The National Book Foundation

Lucas is the third executive director in the history of the foundation, which runs the National Book Awards. Her priority? Inclusivity: "Everyone is either a reader or a potential reader," she says.
NPR

The Shocking Truth About America's Ethanol Law: It Doesn't Matter (For Now)

Ted Cruz doesn't like the law that requires the use of ethanol in gasoline. So what would happen if it was abolished? The surprising answer: not much, probably.
WAMU 88.5

The Latest on the Military, Political and Humanitarian Crises in Syria

Russia continues airstrikes in Syria. Secretary Kerry meets with world leaders in an attempt to resolve the country’s five-year civil war. A panel joins Diane to discuss the latest on the military, political and humanitarian crises facing Syria.

NPR

Twitter Tries A New Kind Of Timeline By Predicting What May Interest You

Twitter has struggled to attract new users. Its latest effort at rejuvenation is a new kind of timeline that predicts which older posts you might not want to miss and displays them on top.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.