Replacements for popular attractions amid government shutdown

Media Credit: Jack Fonseca | Staff Photographer

The U.S. Botanic Garden is federally funded, but because its budget is already locked in – the facility remains open during the shutdown.

Updated: Jan. 16, 2019 at 12:57 p.m.

As the government shutdown rolls on, students may be returning to a campus that also feels shut down.

GW is intertwined with the city surrounding it, so students and residents may struggle to find substitutes for the essential D.C. locations that remain closed alongside the government.

There is no telling when the federal government may reopen, so here are some alternatives to stay entertained until the affected D.C. landmarks are up and running again:

If you wanted to go to the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden:


Although the Hirschhorn Museum remains closed, a private gallery called Artechouse remains open and will soon boast a similar, modern installation to Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s “Pulse.”

Artechouse is an innovative museum that merges art, science and technology in a multi-sensory and interactive experience. Its modern installations feature large screens with vibrant digital images. If you are of age, check out the bar located in the museum, which serves cocktails ($12) that mimic its current exhibit.

Unlike the Hirschhorn, Artechouse only displays one exhibit at a time, but a new installation that begins Thursday called “Everything in Existence,” is very similar to a Hirschhorn exhibit. Artechouse’s iteration will feature four multimedia installations that use data from the viewer, sound in the room and social networks to create “living” art that is constantly changing.

1238 Maryland Ave. SW. Student tickets are $12.

If you wanted to go to the National Gallery of Art:

The Phillips Collection

If you’re looking to get your fix of art during the shutdown, head to The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle.

Similar to the National Gallery of Art, the Phillips Collection boasts a prestigious collection of art in a more intimate space. Located inside an old mansion, the art on the walls juxtaposes the aging building the collection is housed in.

Along with its permanent collection, which includes more than 4,000 pieces of rotating art like “Luncheon of the Boating Party” – a famous painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir – the museum also hosts limited-time exhibitions and Sunday concerts ($20 for students).

On display from the permanent collection is Jacob Lawrence’s “The Migration Series,” which depicts the movement of African Americans from the South to the North between World War I and World War II in a captivating 60-piece series.

Keep warm at Tryst at the Phillips in the Vradenburg Cafe, where coffee and espresso drinks are served along with pastries and a variety of food. Make a day out of your trip by utilizing the free Wi-Fi offered at the cafe after viewing the art.

1600 21st St. NW. Student tickets are $10.

If you wanted to go to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History:

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Along with displaying artifacts and exhibitions, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History hosts various concerts throughout the year. The museum is closed during the shutdown, but the Kennedy Center is open for those who are looking to get out and see a show.

Although its visiting hours are restricted during the shutdown because it receives federal appropriation, the Kennedy Center’s show schedule will remain undisturbed, allowing residents of the District to experience different performances like orchestras and plays.

The Kennedy Center has ticketed shows and tours but there are also free options for those looking to save money while they are without a paycheck. The Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center offers free performances at 6 p.m. daily and guided tours are free. If you are willing to spend some money, grab tickets to noteworthy shows like “Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures: Cinderella” (tickets begin at $29) or the National Symphony Orchestra (tickets begin at $29).

2700 F St. NW.

If you wanted to go to the National Mall:

The U.S. Botanic Garden

While the National Mall is not closed off, the government shutdown means any national park can be closed off without notice and most parks will receive no provided visitor services like restrooms or trash collection. Instead, opt to see natural beauty of the District in a confined space.

The U.S. Botanic Garden is federally funded, but because its budget is already locked in – the facility remains open during the shutdown. The garden features plants from across the globe in four different gardens, so you can take in the beauty of nature without braving the cold. The Botanic Garden also offers various programs like “Night Adventure at the U.S. Botanic Garden,” a 7 p.m. event that allows visitors to go on a flashlight tour of the garden and participate in hands-on plant experiments.

Rather than viewing the monuments on the National Mall for the hundredth time, head to this often overlooked D.C. gem and embrace nature in a beautiful setting.

100 Maryland Ave. SW. Free.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the Capitol Building is closed during the government shutdown. The building is open and operating tours on a normal schedule. We regret this error.

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