Closures start on Saturday, March 14.

The Smithsonian Institution has announced the closure of all museums to curb the spread of coronavirus. Beginning Saturday, March 14, all its museums, including the National Zoo, will cease operations and have employees work from home to ensure the virus is contained. As an added precaution, they've also canceled events, rentals, and other mass gatherings scheduled up through May 3.

"The health and safety of Smithsonian visitors, staff, and volunteers is a top priority," the institution said in a public statement on March 12. "We are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and maintain ongoing communication with local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The affected museums draw thousands of visitors to the nation's capital each year. Along with popular destinations like the American Portrait Gallery and African American History and Culture Museum, New York City's Heye Center and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum are also included in the scheduled closures.


Courtesy of Smithsonian's Facebook

But it's not just the museums that are closing—D.C. icons like The Kennedy Center, Ford's Theatre, and Arlington National Cemetery will also be shutting its doors to the public.

The virus, which was categorized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) has hit D.C. and neighboring states like Maryland, Virginia, and New York. On Wednesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced a state of emergency following six new cases of COVID–19 in the capital, bringing the city's total to 10. Currently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting 1,215 cases of the virus nationwide.

The Smithsonian will keep the public informed through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as release weekly updates on their affiliated websites. While the closures are temporary, there have been no reopening dates announced. Guests are still welcome to utilize the Smithsonian's website to explore online resources and museum archives.