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Cooper Hewitt closed

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum closed due to US government shutdown

The US federal government's partial shutdown has forced the Smithsonian museums, including the Cooper Hewitt design museum in New York and the National African American history museum in Washington DC, to close temporarily.

The Smithsonian Institution closed the doors of its Washington DC and New York City outposts on the 2 January 2019, 12 days after the partial government shutdown severed the funding of the federally run organisation.

At the Cooper Hewitt, the most significant design museum in the US, around a hundred staff have been left unpaid, with no date planned to return to work.

Cooper Hewitt's resources "exhausted"

The Smithsonian Institutions, including the Cooper Hewitt, had remained open following the political stalemate triggered over the contentious billion-dollar cost of president Donald Trump's US-Mexico border wall by using its remaining funds.

However, all resources have now been exhausted at the design museum.

Cooper Hewitt's curator of contemporary design, Alexandra Cunningham Cameron posted an image of its closed gates to Instagram.


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"As of midnight January 1st, extended funding for all Smithsonian institutions exhausted and @cooperhewitt along with the rest of the Smithsonian museums and research centers are closed to the public until the #governmentshutdown is resolved," said Cameron.

Smithsonian Institution shut until "situation is resolved"

The Smithsonian Institution has also taken to Twitter to say it will shut until further notice.

"Due to the #GovernmentShutdown, Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed," it tweeted. "We will update our operating status as soon as the situation is resolved. We do not plan to update social media other than to inform you of our operating status."

The Smithsonian Institution comprises museums, research centres and the National Zoo. Two-thirds of its employees are reportedly federal staff, and most will not be working or paid until further notice.

The National African American history museum in Washington DC, which was designed by Adjaye Associates in partnership with US firms Davis Brody Bond, The Freelon Group and SmithGroupJJR. has also closed.

The Smithsonian Institution was also forced to close during the 2013 shutdown, which lasted 16 days in total.

Shutdown follows US-Mexico border wall saga

Starting on 22 December 2018, the current federal government shutdown has lasted for nearly two weeks, making it the fourth longest in history. US Congress failed to agree on government funding because of the cost of Trump's $5.7 (£5.1) billion border wall.

The shutdown came just one day after the president revealed designs for the "beautiful" structure on his Twitter, which were then lampooned by designers.

This is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the US-Mexico border wall – a key part of the president's 2016 election campaign – which has been criticised for cost estimates and has triggered protests.

It has also received a major backlash from the architecture and design community, which has mocked it with alternatives like a 1,954-mile-long dinner table and a flat-pack Ikea kit.

Main photo is by Alexisrael.