What’s happening this week in DC? PLENTY!!!
We’ve missed you and are happy to welcome you back to Washington, DC, home to museums, monuments as well as all three branches of the United States government.
The magic of discovering beautiful treasures and iconic sites is still here but, of course, your visit will feel a little different than before.
Here’s what you can expect when you visit us and what our buildings will be asking from you to keep everyone safe: wear masks indoors and outdoors (it’s DC law); wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer; social distance by keeping your family or group at least 6 feet from members of any other party. Most museums require free tickets to control crowd sizes. Tickets are available by phone or online – but occasionally free tickets are distributed at the entry doors (ask!). You may notice that not all Smithsonian museums are open on the same days. This is to give all visitors a chance to visit at least one of the Smithsonian museums no matter what day they visit.
Finally, spend as much time outdoors as possible, and with all of our outdoor monuments that should be easy! Scroll down for a list of Mall Monuments & Memorials that have now re-opened. Most are open 24/7
Oh, and it’s not just re-openings! We have one brand new opening to report. Joining the impressive collection of outdoor Mall monuments, a new monument was just completed. The Dwight Eisenhower Memorial, located at 6th and Independence Ave, SW (across from Air and Space Museum), opened on September 15, 2020 and is open daily 24/7. Also the original monument on the Mall, the Washington Monument is now open! Timed entry passes are required. The White House Visitors Center, at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. is open, (no passes required) Tuesday through Saturday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Think of it as an interactive display all about the White House and the many First Families. It is located one block off the Mall.
Museums on the Mall
As of September 25, 2020 the following Mall museums are open: all require masks, most require free tickets but you can absolutely find lunch! So, make it a day on the Mall! Our famous food trucks are back and some museums have reopened their snack bars. Just remember distances are deceiving on the Mall- it would be easy to walk 7-8 miles just taking in the Mall sites, alone.
- National Gallery of Art West Building–Enter at 6th St, NW & Constitution Ave, NW. Free timed passes required. For information call 1 202-842- 6967 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. or at nga.gov. Entry times are every 30 minutes. Limited displays but until October 12 Degas at the Opera is on view as is True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe 1780- 1880 until November 28. The Espresso and Gelato Bar on Concourse Level is open as is the Gallery Shop with limited merchandise. NGA is open daily from 11 am to 4 pm. The National Gallery of Art East Wing has not yet reopened.
- However no passes are needed at DC’s famous outdoor museum, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden where it’s first come first served. However, by DC law masks are required even in outdoor situations. Enter the Sculpture Garden at Madison Drive, NW & 7th St, NW. Open daily from 11AM to 4PM. There is food service at the Pavilion Café and picnics are permitted. Here are a few rules: don’t touch the sculpture, walk beside your bike; no skateboards or skates. Only service animals allowed.
- African American Museum of History and Culture – Enter at Madison Drive, NW near Constitution Ave, NW. Free timed tickets required (1-844-750-3012 or si.edu/visit/passes); 6 passes per party; groups larger than 6 prohibited. Most displays are open however the cafés remain closed. Don’t miss the 1973 Red Cadillac Eldorado owned by Chuck Berry, the Baldwin Collection from writer and activist James Baldwin’s house in France as well as objects owned by Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman. Time: Wednesday-Sunday 11 am to 4 pm.
- The American History Museum – Enter at Constitution Avenue, NW between 12th & 14th St, NW (The Mall entrance to American History is closed). Free timed tickets required: 1-800 514-3849 ext. 1 or si.edu/visit/passes. This is a VERY poplar museum – there may be a queue, therefore dress for the weather. Some displays are limited but the First Ladies display is open (Inaugural Ball gowns) as is The Star Spangled Banner, and the Ruby Slippers (Wizard of OZ) as well as many, many more displays from our country’s past. There is a small kiosk shop open near the Ruby Slippers. Time: 11 am to 4 pm from Friday through Tuesday.
- The American Indian Museum – Enter at 3rd St SW & Independence Avenue, SW (facing the US Capitol Building); free, timed passes at 1-800-514-3849 or go to si.edu/visit/passes. One hundred persons admitted per hour – there could be a queue so dress for the weather; entry times every 30 minutes; 6 entry passes per party. There is no food service at this time. Displays include: Americas; Nation to Nation; The Great Inka Road; Return to a Native Place and Potomac. Time: 11 am- 4 pm Wednesday – Sunday.
Monuments on the Mall
Monuments on the Mall are open 24-7. We are listing the major Mall monuments from east to west beginning with the Grant Memorial at the base of the US Capitol. You will find that even during the pandemic there will be crowded moments at these sites and the Park Service is present to monitor social distancing and masks. However, the monuments themselves and the pathways to and from them are, at present, relatively un-crowded.
- The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial – situated on the west side of the US Capitol Building facing the Capitol Reflecting Pool. This enormous bronze & marble work of art depicts a gigantic Civil War battle scene and includes as a centerpiece an equestrian statue of President Grant. It was erected in 1922 by a grateful nation as a salute to General Grant who successfully led Union Troops in the US Civil War and then went on to serve two terms as President. Face west and you will see a spectacular view of the Mall all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. The Grant Memorial and the US Capitol Grounds are open daily 24/7 unless closed by the US Capitol Police or the Architect of the Capitol.
- The Dwight Eisenhower Memorial, located at 6th and Independence Ave, SW (across from Air and Space Museum), was opened on September 15, 2020 and is open daily 24/7. The site of the Eisenhower Memorial is symbolic: the memorial is positioned on 3 acres of land directly between the US Department of Education and the Air and Space Museum. President Eisehnhower established the Department of Education in 1953 and NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in 1958. Featuring an enormous metal tapestry depicting the cliffs at Normandy Beach, as well as statues from the life of Eisenhower, the memorial took over 20 years to complete. The unusual back story is that Post Modern Architect Frank O. Gehry and the midwestern Eisenhower family had strongly held but conflicting views on the style and design of the memorial to honor Five Star General and two-time President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower. General Eisenhower led the Normandy Invasion ending World War II in Europe. Many design changes and delays ensued over the years but there was an agreement between the parties that the Eisenhower Memorial would be complete by June 6, 2020, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. However, the arrival of Covid 19 in 2019-2020 caused another three months of delays. The Eisenhower Memorial is now complete and open (including bathrooms) but the final design will not be visible until the trees, (all natives species to Kansas, Eisenowers home state) mature.
- The Washington Monument- the centerpiece of the Mall, the memorial to George Washington was begun in 1848 however financial setbacks and the Civil War caused work to be halted for 20 years. It was opened to the public in 1888. For information on getting Washington Monument tickets go to https://www.recreation.gov/ The first Tour begins at 9:00 AM and the last Tour begins at 4:00 PM.