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U.S. Federal Government shutdown hits Smithsonian

Smithsonian Institution officials have announced that if the current U.S. federal government shutdown continues past January 1, all Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C and in New York City, along with the National Zoo will be forced to close on January 2nd.

When the US Congress fails to pass appropriate funding for government operations and agencies, a shutdown is triggered. Most government services are frozen, barring those deemed “essential” such as the work of the Department of Homeland Security and FBI.

During a shutdown, nearly 40% of the government workforce is placed on unpaid furlough and told not to work. Approximately two-thirds of Smithsonian staff are federal employees, which means they’ll have to join the roughly 380,000 workers who were forced to stop doing their jobs when federal funding lapsed on Saturday.

‘Prior-year funds’ had been used to keep Smithsonian Institution museums and the National Zoo open between Christmas and New Year even as other agencies such as the National Park Service closed to the public.

The last time the Smithsonian was forced to keep its doors closed was in 2013, during the last government shutdown. That lasted 16 days.

The Smithsonian Institution museums are:

– Anacostia Community Museum
– Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
– Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
– Freer Gallery of Art
– Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
– National Air and Space Museum
– National Museum of African American History and Culture
– National Museum of African Art
– National Museum of American History
– National Museum of the American Indian
– National Museum of Natural History
– National Portrait Gallery
– National Postal Museum
– Renwick Gallery
– Smithsonian American Art Museum
– National Zoological Park

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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