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Government Shutdown Could Close NY Museums

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New Yorkers planning on visiting one of two Smithsonian museums in New York City this weekend will have to think twice if the federal government shutdown goes into effect on Saturday morning. The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, which are both part of the Smithsonian, will close their doors to the public on Saturday if the shutdown goes forward.

"Once we know, we’ll be posting notices to our Web site and at the museum itself," said Jennifer Northrop, the Cooper-Hewitt's marketing and communications director. "We’re all hoping it won’t happen. We’re hoping for the best and preparing for the worst."

Northrop said the Cooper-Hewitt relied on two separate funding streams to keep its doors open—federally appropriated monies and trustee funds. The museum's 27 workers whose salaries are funded by federal monies will not report in on Saturday if a shutdown occurs. Workers' salaries that are paid for by trustee monies will not be affected.

Closing to the public couldn't come at a worse time for the Cooper-Hewitt.

“We’ve been seeing record-breaking visitation—1,800 people were here last Saturday," she said. "The idea that our doors would be closed on Saturday is unfortunate...We’re all lighting candles.

The two Cooper-Hewitt exhibits attracting design fans and tourists to the museum in spades are “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels” and “Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay.”

National parks in New York City, including the Statue of Liberty, Grant’s Tomb and Ellis Island, will also be closed to the public if Congress does not reach an agreement about the 2012 budget before Friday’s deadline.