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Smithsonian reopening 7 museums and the National Zoo in May

Washingtonians will finally be able to see the panda cub in person starting May 21.

The Smithsonian announced Friday that it will be reopening seven of its museums and the National Zoo on a rolling basis throughout the month of May. Several of the museums had attempted to reopen last fall after shuttering in March, only to shut down again on Nov. 23 due to the increase of COVID-19 cases nationwide. 

While the museums and zoo remain free, all Smithsonian institutions reopening will require timed-entry passes to monitor capacity limits and to help with social distancing. Passes can be reserved here

Viewing of the Zoo’s newest panda cub, Xiao Qi Ji, will be limited for social distancing purposes and will require a separate free timed-entry pass. Ask for a pass for the Asia Trail / Giant Pandas when you arrive at the zoo if you want to see Xiao Qi Ji. 

Here's the reopening schedule:

May 5 

  • Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

May 14 

  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery

May 21 

  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • National Zoo

Safety Measures 

  • Visitors who are sick or do not feel well should stay home
  • Face coverings are required for all visitors ages 2 and older
  • Visitors will need to obtain a free timed-entry pass in advance of their visit to limit the number of people in each location
  • Implementing safe social distancing, including one-way paths and directional guidance where appropriate.
  • Providing hand-sanitizing stations for visitors and conducting enhanced cleaning throughout all facilities.
  • Museum cafes will not be open at this time. Restaurants and food trucks at the National Zoo will be open.

Operating Hours

Throughout the pandemic, when Smithsonian institutions were closed, virtual exhibitions, online collections and educational resources remained available to the public through the Smithsonian's website