Updated January 12, 2019

They’ve done it again, those blessed legislators of ours: they’ve shut down the government while somebody tries to convince them to pay for a great big wall. So what if you’re in DC and you’re looking for something to do?

Here’s what’s open during the federal government shutdown:

  • The Newseum, Washington’s museum of journalism, is a great place to go to reflect on the news of the day. In front of the museum is a display, updated daily, of the front pages of newspapers from around the world, showing just how ridiculous the U.S. government shutdown looks to people around the world. The Newseum is open from 9 to 5 daily (10 to 5 on Sundays). Federal employees get in free with their federal ID badge!
  • The United States Holocaust Museum is open!
  • The National Building Museum has a great show about Baltimore’s forgotten movie palaces. And there are interactive indoor play areas for building with foam blocks while it’s freezing outside. Open 7 days a week. Federal employees get in free with their federal ID badge!
  • The National Museum of Women in the Arts has a current exhibit on the American luxury fashion house Rodarte, founded by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy. The first Sunday of each month is community day, which means free admission for all. (Normal admission price is $8-10, under 18 is free.)
  • Hillwood Museum and Gardens is a spectacular place to visit any time of year, though in winter the museum is much more so than the gardens. The permanent collection of the museum includes more Russian imperial art than anywhere outside of Russia. If it’s warm enough, kids will enjoy running through the grounds and spotting the “dacha” cottage, a pet cemetery, a putting green, and the lunar lawn. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 to 5.
  • The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle is known as the first modern art museum in America, with an impressive collection of impressionist and modern art from the 1920s onward. Admission to the permanent collection is free on weekdays, $10 on weekends. Federal employees get in free with their federal ID badge!
  • The Library of Congress is open during the shutdown and well worth a visit. Free guided tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The National Law Enforcement Museum is open. Timed-entry tickets are required, costing $14.95-21.95.
  • Artechouse, a massive underground art space with the feel of a dance club, has super-cool interactive immersive exhibits. Open for ages 2 and up during the day; 21 and over after 5:30. Tickets $8-15.
  • The House of Sweden has a couple of fun shows running right now. Photographs by Hasse Persson from the heyday of Studio 54 line the walls of one gallery; another explores the influence if Ingmar Bergman’s films on fashion. The building at 2000 K St. NW is open to the public Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm. Free admission.
  • The Museum of the Bible definitely wasn’t funded with taxpayer money, so it will be open through the shutdown. There’s a reconstruction of an ancient city that kids might enjoy.
  • Old Town Alexandria is offering free keys to the city to Federal employees and overnight visitors for admission to local historic attractions.
  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon is open. Buy your tickets online for a discount!


What’s closed during the federal government shutdown:

The Smithsonian

The National Zoo

The National Gallery

The Spy Museum – Not because of the shutdown but because it is in the middle of moving to its fancy new location.

The National Geographic Museum – Again not because of the shutdown but because they are installing their new Queens of Egypt exhibit opening February 28.


Send us your ideas!

We’ll be adding more ideas as we find them, so keep checking back, and send your suggestions to editor [at] alloverthemap.net. And don’t forget to email your representatives to tell them what you think of the shutdown.