Government shutdowns are even worse for museums than you think

Source: Katherine Boyle - The Washington Post

This week, the National Gallery of Art turned away the prime minister of Greece, Antonis Samaras, and Adrienne Arsht, the philanthropist who underwrote the gallery’s most recent blockbuster exhibition, “Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes.” Samaras was supposed to view a Byzantine art exhibit co-sponsored by groups from his country. Arsht was set to throw a large party for patrons who wanted to visit “Diaghilev” one last time.

Both were canceled due to the government shutdown. And therein lies a lesson about why the shutdown is even worse for Washington's museum sector than you might think. In short: The Smithsonian and other federally funded museums rely in significant part on private funding — but the shutdown inhibits their ability to raise even the private funds.

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