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Posted at 1:44 PM ET, 12/ 5/2008

Inauguration Day: Open and Shut

By Stephanie Merry

So the big question for Inauguration Day is: With millions of people on the Mall, where are the masses going to head to eat, warm up and use the bathroom? The natural inclination will probably be to go to the various museums, because they're big, many are free and they provide some genuine entertainment for people seeking refuge from outdoor crowds (by hanging out with more crowds indoors). The museum openings and closings are constantly changing, but here is an initial rundown of the places that could serve as a warming station and those that won't.

Parade-goers were probably delighted to hear the news that one museum has decided to open its doors: the Newseum. Of course, with the news of one opening comes word that another museum will be closed. Smithsonian officials have decided to close the Renwick -- a stone's throw from the White House -- on the 20th.

As of now, many other museums plan to be open that day including all of the other Smithsonian museums, including the Museum of the American Indian, American History and the Museum of Natural History. (Check out our map of the Mall to see where each museum is.) The conveniently located National Gallery of Art is also planning to open that day. While these museums (and their heat and bathrooms) can all be accessed free of charge, the Newseum will charge its typical entrance fee of $20 for adults, $18 for age 65 and older and $13 for ages 7-12.

According to the Newseum's director of media relations, Tina Tate, tickets for entry to the Newseum on Inauguration Day will most likely go on sale sometime on Monday. Keep in mind though, the public will not have access to the outdoor balconies overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, and those who buy tickets online will still have to deal with security checkpoints and transportation issues (including the closed Archives metro station) in order to get to the museum that day.

As for other closures, for those who thought a view of the parade from the Washington Monument sounded like fun, think again. The monument will be closed that day, as will the nearby Corcoran Gallery and the Museum for Women in the Arts. We'll keep you posted about any other museums that end up being closed: there could be more changes because the Secret Service has the final say about what's open for buildings within the security perimeter.

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | December 5, 2008; 1:44 PM ET
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