While the National Mall may have had tumbling tumbleweeds this week due to the shutdown of many of our city’s biggest museums, loads of tourists have been using their SmarTrip cards to take the red line out to Dupont Circle and visit the Phillips. Even though we are between special exhibitions, we have still seen crowds at 3 1/2 times our usual numbers. A typical Thursday in early October with no special exhibition would host 155 visitors. Yesterday, we had 626, and that doesn’t even include the 700+ for Phillips After 5.
Not only have we welcomed many new visitors, we’ve experienced the shutdown in other ways. Delivery schedules for works of art have been changed to accommodate shuttered institutions and furloughed art handlers. Fellow cultural institutions scrambling for venues to host long-planned events have approached us for help. While we hope that the government resolves this round of conflict soon, we have enjoyed welcoming all who have streamed through our doors this week.