Administration

Jill Biden visits Smithsonian as DC museums reopen

First lady Jill Biden on Friday marked the reopening of Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., with a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The first lady toured some of the exhibits and spoke to museum staff in the latest effort from the White House to highlight how vaccinated Americans can start to return to pre-pandemic norms. 

“It felt so good to be outside and have our masks off,” Biden said, one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance to say that those who are fully vaccinated do not need face coverings in most situations.

“It feels so special to me and it does feel hopeful. … Inch by inch we’re moving forward and we’ve got to just get this pandemic under control,” she added.

The first lady brought chocolate chip cookies from the White House for those at the museum for its first day open since March 2020. She removed her mask to speak to staff but put it back on for a partial tour of the museum.

After greeting staffers, Biden toured an exhibit highlighting the life of Harriet Tubman, including Tubman’s handkerchief and Bible. She also viewed “The Middle Passage” exhibit, which details the history of how slaves were transported to the United States.

The Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, as well as the National Zoo, had largely been closed to the public since March of last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The zoo and a few other Smithsonian locations reopened briefly last summer before closing again amid the fall surge of COVID-19 cases.

Three museums, including African American History and Culture, reopened to the public on Friday. The rest of the museums, plus the zoo, will reopen next week.

The Smithsonian has implemented additional safety protocols for visitors, including a timed-entry system to space out crowds, as well as social distancing measures.

The museum visit was the latest example of White House officials venturing out into the local community, something Trump administration officials seldom did. The first lady previously stopped by a Capitol Hill bakery in February, and President Biden last month visited a Mexican restaurant last week to highlight the administration’s support for small businesses.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic coronavirus restrictions Jill Biden Joe Biden National Mall national museum of african american history and culture Smithsonian Institution Washington D.C.

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