Credit: Darrow Montgomery

City Paper launched this as a guide for furloughed federal employees, but it has become a resource for many more people—especially the thousands who earn their living in government-adjacent careers, like taxi and Uber drivers, people who work at downtown eateries and hair salons, and of course, contact workers, such as the security guards at Smithsonian museums. On Jan. 11 we swapped out the original article title, which was “The Furloughed Federal Employee’s Guide to the 2019 Shutdown in D.C.”

Whether you need food and financial assistance, a decent place to get internet all day, or discounted theater tickets, we hope you find something here. We’ve also begun to add ways to help those in need of food and other resources. We’ll update this page regularly with additional information for as long as necessary.

Alexa Mills

Shutdown day number: After 35 days, we’re in a three-week shutdown reprieve.

New resources during shutdown reprieve:

  • Catholic Charities is offering financial assistance for rent, essential home supplies, medical services, and transportation. Participants also get a warm meal, snack bag, and a week’s worth of food. Come with a valid government employee or federal contractor ID and documentation of the bills you need covered.

    • Tuesday, Jan. 29: Susan Denison Mona Center at 5859 Allentown Way in Temple Hills, starting at 1 p.m. The weekly St. Maria’s meal service starts at 5 p.m.

    • Wednesday, Jan. 30: ANCHOR Health at 1001 Lawrence St. NE, starting at 4 p.m.

    • Thursday, Jan. 31: St. Mary of the Mills at 106 St. Mary’s Pl. in Laurel, starting at 4 p.m.

  • D.C.-area coworking spaces are offering free lunches for government workers who are temporarily not furloughed. Lunches start at noon and are first-come, first-served.

    • Monday, Jan. 28:

      • Alley Powered by Verizon at 2055 L St. NW, 4th Floor

      • Industrious at 4201 Wilson Blvd., 3rd Floor, Arlington

    • Tuesday, Jan. 29:

      • Inclusive Innovation Incubator at 2301 Georgia Ave. NW

    • Wednesday, Jan. 30:

      • 1776 at 2231 Crystal Dr., #1000, Arlington

      • MakeOffices at 1015 15th St. NW, #600

      • Industrious at 1 Thomas Cir NW #700

    • Thursday, Jan. 31:

      • The Yard at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

    • Friday, Feb. 1:

      • MindSpace at 1301 K St. NW

Resources initiated during shutdown: 

Get (or give) food assistance in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia:

  • Call the Capital Area Food Bank’s Hunger Lifeline at (202) 644-9807. The bank distributes food to over 400 food assistance programs in the D.C. area, and the lifeline can direct those in need to the closest program. Some offer groceries, while others offer free meals.

  • The Capital Area Food Bank is reportedly inundated with requests for food assistance. If you’re in a position to donate, here’s how to give food. You can also buy a beer for furloughed workers by heading to a new website called

  • Starting at noon on Jan. 21st Catholic Charities DC’s SHARE Food Network will open its doors to sell fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and other staples at deep discounts. The items will be available à la carte. SHARE can also customize packages for families large and small.

  • Starting Monday, Jan. 14, Bread for the City will provide a five-day supply of groceries to furloughed federal employees and federal contractors currently out of work because of the shutdown.

    • Bread for the City accepts food donations at both their Northwest (1525 7th St. NW) and Southeast (1640 Good Hope Road SE) locations.

  • Starting Wednesday, Jan. 16, Chef José Andrés will offer a rotating menu of free sandwiches, soups, and salads inside his ThinkFoodLab at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW for those with government IDs. The kitchen will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    • You can also get pet food, baby formula, diapers, and other sanitary products at this location. See details in the pet section and baby section, below.

  • D.C.’s Department of Parks and Recreation is providing free lunch for children 18 and younger on Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. at eight locations across the city. Check the department’s Twitter account for updates.

  • Food & Friends is offering furloughed federal employees grappling with a serious illness, either personally or in their family, meals and/or grocery delivery for both the individual living with illness and also their caregivers and dependents. Food & Friends can provide meals tailored to specific nutritional needs.

  • A variety of other food banks in D.C. are open to those in need.

    • Martha’s Table offers free fresh produce and pantry items every day at Martha’s Table Markets. They have Markets in Barry Farm and U St-Cardozo, and you can visit each location once a month.

    • Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in upper Northwest has a food pantry every Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Call ahead to make sure they’ve still got supplies, because the church has run out of food in weeks past.

    • So Others Might Eat offers a food pantry at 7:30 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It serves the first 10 people each morning, and people can come twice a month.

  • You can also eat and drink for free, or at a steep discount. Shutdown specials at local eateries abound, and WTOP assembled a list of some of the restaurants and meal prep services offering free meals to government workers on furlough. We’d like to call out three of our favorites:

    • Visit a bar that’s usually closed during the day. The Midlands Beer Garden (3333 Georgia Ave. NW) will open at noon Mondays through Fridays serving $5 Irish coffees all day, plus BOGO on all local draft beer until 7 p.m. There’s also free wifi, in case you’re searching for a new job.

    • Get a free sandwich every day from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at José Andrés’ restaurants. Options include chicken shawarma at Zaytinya, jamón serrano at Jaleo, and pulled pork at America Eats Tavern. Oyamel, China Chilcano, and Beefsteak are also participating.

    • Baked by Yael (3000 Connecticut Ave. NW) is not only offering federal employees and contractors free coffee throughout the duration of the shutdown, but it’s also hosting free cake pop-making classes. There are a number of classes scheduled, and you can check times and register for them here.

  • For those in Maryland:

    • First Baptist Church of Glenarden, in Prince George’s County, is offering groceries, toiletries, and clothes to furloughed employees and contractors from 10 to 2:30 on weekdays. Bring an employee ID to their Empowerment Center at 403 Brighseat Road in Landover.

    • All Montgomery County residents impacted by the shutdown can call Manna Food Center at (301) 424-1130 to get enrolled in their food assistance program. The program provides roughly 60 pounds of food every 30 days.

    • Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington in Silver Spring has a food pantry open to everyone from 10 to 2 on Monday through Thursday, as well as additional pop-up pantries for federal employees. If you call at (301) 585-6556, they can find a time that works for you.

    • Metro’s union ATU Local 689 is offering free meals to furloughed workers and their families between noon and 6 p.m. on weekdays at ATU International headquarters in Silver Spring at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center, which has free parking and is accessible by bus.

    • Takoma Park Silver Spring (TPSS) Co-op, a natural foods grocery store, is offering a $300 line of credit to members going without pay due to the government shutdown. It’s called F.A.M (Furlough Assistance for Members), and you can complete an application to get started. Not a member? Fear not. You can join by putting $10 down on the usual $100 lifetime membership fee.

  • For those in Virginia:

    • The National Conference Center in Leesburg is serving complimentary meals to all D.C.-area furloughed workers and their families, and will continue to do so one week after the shutdown ends. You and your family can dine at the center, located at 18980 Upper Belmont Place, once a day on weekdays.  

    • Food for Others’ warehouse in Fairfax is providing free food, including fresh produce and frozen meat, to those impacted to the shutdown from 9:30 to 5 on weekdays. They also operate neighborhood food pantries at over a dozen sites across Northern Virginia.

    • Fairfax County residents affected by the shutdown can come every Wednesday to Western Fairfax Christian Ministries from 5 to 7 to receive groceries including fresh meat, dairy, and produce, as well as a limited supply of gas gift cards. You must bring proof of Fairfax residency, as well as proof that you’re impacted by the shutdown.

Apply to law school: 

George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School is offering a free two-day LSAT Prep Course to all federal employees and contractors, and both days come with a free lunch. The course is Jan. 30-31, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Register and read up on the details here

For your infant:

DC Diaper Bank will be at World Central Kitchen’s Federal Resource Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on January 23, 24, and 25. They will be giving away diapers to furloughed employees, as well as tampons, pads, incontinence products, and a limited amount of formula. If you want diapers, you need to bring your children’s birth certificates—they’ll be giving away 100 diapers per baby. Bring a bag.

For your medical needs: 

Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington has a program called the Financial Assistance Policy. The hospital doesn’t want workers who are going without pay to postpone medical appointments out of fear that they won’t be able to pay. Currently furloughed government workers and patients anticipating challenges in paying healthcare bills can call the hospital’s financial counseling department at (703) 558-2492 to put together a manageable payment plan. Check here for a summary of the program and eligibility information. 

Get utility assistance:

Pepco is reminding customers in need of utility assistance that they can apply for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides grants based on a household’s income size, type of fuel, and type of dwelling. D.C. residents can apply online though the Department of Energy and the Environment. Maryland residents can apply through the Department of Human Services website, visiting a Local Energy Assistance Office, or calling Maryland’s Office of Home Energy Programs at 1-800-332-6347.

Also available for D.C. residents: the Utility Discount Program (UDP), which assists eligible D.C. residents with utility costs up to $475 annually, or the Greater Washington Urban League, which provides up to $500 in assistance to eligible customers facing disconnection.

Get help managing your money, or your lack of money:

  • Tech-focused D.C. law firm ZwillGen PLLC is making loans of up to $750 to furloughed and formerly-furloughed federal workers in the D.C. area who make less than $70,000 annually. To be eligible, workers must also work for agencies where Zwillgen has no current (or likely future) business, including the TSA, FCC, and others. Check here for details.

  • M&T Bank customers: Call your bank. You can now defer payments or make partial payments until you’re reinstated with back pay. You can also request various fee waivers to postpone repossessions and suppress adverse credit reporting. Various forms of relief are available to individual, business, and commercial customers.

  • If you’re a local credit union member, call your bank to see if they offer shutdown assistance, such as:

    • Signal Financial federal Credit Union is offering several forms of assistance to members affected by the shutdown: payday advances of up to 90% of the member’s regular paycheck at zero interest, deferred payments on loans, and waived fees. Get the details here.

    • If you get your paychecks deposited to the U.S. Employees Credit Union, you are likely eligible for an interest-free loan, regardless of your credit score.

    • Navy Federal Credit Union and Andrews Federal Credit Union’s interest-free loans will match workers’ missed paychecks up to $6,000 and $5,000, respectively, with no payments for 90 days.

    • Advantage Financial Federal Credit Union’s loans for federal contractors are matching their missed paychecks at five percent interest for six months.

    • Agriculture Federal Credit Union and U.S. Employees Credit Union are allowing members with bank loans to defer payments and waive late fees.

  • Missing payments on credit card debt and other loans can be expensive, with a lasting impact on your credit. But many loan providers offer programs that can help in these situations, and USA Today has compiled a list of them.

  • For those having trouble making mortgage payments, there are several nonprofits in D.C. that offer one-on-one counseling for navigating that process and determining options.

Call your phone carrier:

T-Mobile and Verizon representatives tell City Paper that furloughed employees can get help paying their phone bills.

  • Verizon is letting customers affected by the shutdown defer their phone bill payments, and is offering to waive all late fees if customers call 1-866-266-1445.
  • T-Mobile customers can call 1-800-937-8997 to delay their bills, waive late payment fees, or restore service cut off due to missed payments during the shutdown. However, customers affected by the shutdown who fall behind on their bills may still have to pay T-Mobile’s $8 transaction fee. 

For your pet:

  • Your pet can get food assistance, too. The DC Pet Pantry is here to help Washingtonians who bring proof of their residency to the pantry.

  • The International Fund for Animal Welfare is providing food for the pets of furloughed federal employees next to World Central Kitchen’s Café at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. It’s open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., from Jan. 22 through 31.

  • Federal employees can also call their vet to ask for assistance with their bills during the shutdown. Friendship Animal Hospital tells City Paper they are waiving their $180 emergency care fee and offering deferred payment plans to furloughed federal employees who can show a federal ID. City Paws’ two clinics are giving $10 off wellness and sick exams, too.

If you’d like to donate clothing, or need some new items:

Whether you’re cleaning your home or in need of particular items, there’s a slew of local organizations that are currently accepting clothing donations, on top of those running coat drives for the winter. Check their individual websites for specifics on how and where to drop off your clothing, and what kinds of products are in highest demand.

Check out: A Wider CircleBread for the City; Suited for Change; Clothing Recycling Company; N Street Village; Goodwill of Greater Washington; Christ House; So Others Might Eat; Martha’s Table; Central Union Mission.

Local organizations that could use volunteers:

  • Help welcome migrants arriving to the D.C. area: The Migrant Transit Support Initiative, a collaboration between the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network and a number of local partners, needs volunteers to distribute food, coats, winter clothes, hospitality kits, and informational resources to migrants who are passing through D.C.’s Union Station. Those interested in volunteering can register here. For more information, contact the Migrant Transit Support Initiative at
  • Help clean up national parks and local watersheds:
    • Groups of hikers are meeting to help pick up trash in Shenandoah National Park, so organize a group yourself, or tag along with them.

    • Get in touch with the Anacostia Watershed Society, a Bladensburg, MD-based environmental nonprofit that plans on hosting public land cleanups in the greater D.C. area.

    • The Potomac Conservancy will also hold at least two scheduled volunteer trash pickup events this month at national parks—and while the organization usually partners with NPS to help dispose of the trash, this time, the organization’s conservation director Katie Blackman says, PC will likely have to rent trucks itself to haul the garbage out.

  • Catholic Charities in D.C. and southern Maryland have a wide range of volunteer opportunities at various commitment levels, from serving meals, to assembling breakfast bags for shelter residents, to cleaning. Email with any questions.
  • Help the homeless: Consider signing up for Miriam’s Kitchen’s volunteer orientations. The organization needs volunteers to help with meal preparation, distribute toiletries to guests, help guests write resumes, and give haircuts, among other jobs. Please note, Miriam’s Kitchen needs people who can commit to a monthly shift, so consider this one a long-term opportunity.
  • DC Jobs With Justice is recruiting furloughed federal employees and those currently without work to “participate in research, advocacy, and direct worker and employer engagement.” You can register online, and someone from the organization will reach out with specific ways to participate.

Call your home state senator or congressional representative with your thoughts:

One 2013 shutdown survivor tells City Paper that she enlisted her mom, who lives in New Hampshire, to call her representatives at home about what her daughter was dealing with in D.C. We’ll leave it up to you to look up contact info for your home state representatives, but for everyone in Maryland and Virginia, here you go:

Call City Paper:

Do you want the world to hear what you have to say about this furlough? Call Washington City Podcast’s Furlough Phone Line at (202) 681-9756. Feel free to complain, rant, report live from whatever you’re doing while you’re out of work, or leave any other comments related to this shutdown. (Washington City Podcast, Furlough Edition, is available online now. It includes calls made to City Paper‘s Furlough Phone Line, which is still open.)

Go to the woods: 

The Audubon Naturalist Society is now offering free membership to all furloughed federal employees and contractors, and a bunch of free programs and classes, all listed here. For example, on Jan. 25 at noon you can attend yoga in the woods, which involves “a walking and deep breathing meditation, which will start and end inside.” The Audubon has two nature sanctuaries that are free and open to the public, as well. 

Apply for unemployment benefits:

“We continue to monitor the claims that are coming in for unemployment and making sure we’re staffed to deal with additional claims,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a press conference today.

Federal employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits during the partial shutdown, though there is typically at least a week-long delay after the submission of an application. (During the last major federal shutdown, in 2013, the Obama administration said furloughed employees had to return any benefits they received.) Nevertheless, if you’re a federal employee and you’re not working because of the shutdown, you can apply for unemployment benefits through the state in which you work.

  • To find your state’s office, click here. If you live in the District, you’ll file with the D.C. Department of Employment Services, which is running on extended hours, to 6:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, according to the mayor’s office. As of Jan. 4, more than 2,000 federal claims had been filed, according to DOES.
  • To find how much of a benefit you’re entitled to receiving, click here.
  • The Office of Personnel Management also has a handy FAQ and resource page for just this occasion.

Go to the gym:

Not having a structured work hours can drastically affect someone’s exercise routine. For some, that’s incredibly difficult to handle. Gym memberships may be one of the first costs cut when a paycheck does not arrive. These gyms are offering discounts or deals to federal employees so that they can continue working out.

  • Active Life DC has a running list of free D.C.-area workouts, a handy bookmark year-round.
  • Balance Gym is offering free workouts from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, to those with a valid federal employee ID. Balance has locations in Glover Park, Foggy Bottom, Capitol Hill, and Thomas Circle.
  • The Bar Method DC-Bethesda-North Potomac is offering two weeks of unlimited classes for new and lapsed clients for $39 with code shutdown, redeemable at any of their three DC area studios. They’ll be running this special as long as the shutdown is on.
  • Crunch Fitness offers regular one-day free passes.
  • 202strong, a strength and circuit training gym in D.C. and Maryland, is offering first classes for free and up to five classes for $5 for clients with a government ID.
  • Elevate Interval Fitness is offering two free off-peak classes per week to furloughed government employees and contractors. Anyone interested will need to email manager Laura Nichols at for availability.
  • Row for free at DC Row, a boutique indoor rowing studio with locations in Southwest and Georgetown. Email to reserve a spot and bring a government ID to the class.
  • Attend classes for $10 at Election Cycle, a spin studio off H Street NW during the shutdown. Email to sign up.

Best midday biking routes:

The combination of stress and boredom from not being at work is best met with some exercise, and unlike signing up for a spin or yoga class, biking is free (if you have your own bike).

If you’re in the mood to fulminate at feckless lawmakers, the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack connects the White House and Capitol. You can ride back and forth all day and give each branch a piece of your mind when you turn around.

Unfortunately, the most popular routes and trails in the D.C. area are federally owned and overseen by the National Parks Service. Hains Point, the C&O Canal towpath, the Mount Vernon Trail, and the Anacostia Riverwalk are still accessible for your recreational enjoyment. What won’t be, though, are restrooms along the way, so plan accordingly.

How hard you ride or how far you go is really secondary to the best part of a midday ride: the realization that city biking doesn’t have to be stressful. If you only ever ride during rush hour or on weekends, you might not realize how quiet and calm midday streets can be. There are fewer drivers out and less bustle and this can make for an unrushed and almost surreally peaceful urban bicycling experience. Take advantage of it. Gear Prudence

Get a discount on your medical marijuana:

Medical marijuana dispensary Metropolitan Wellness Center is selling all weed products except flowers at 20 percent off during the shutdown. The dispensary announced the discount applies to any government employee who shows ID.

Great places to enjoy free wifi:

Free Internet is not hard to come by in most of D.C. The District even offers this map of “DC Wi-Fi Hotspots.” City Paper has a few recommendations for excellent places to spend the day on your laptop.

  • D.C.’s public libraries! Public Wi-Fi access is available at all DC Public Library locations.

  • The Library of Congress is open during the shutdown. Free Wi-Fi is available in public research areas, the Thomas Jefferson Building exhibition spaces, and selected areas serving special clientele, like Congressional reading rooms, the Kluge Center, and various meeting rooms, according to the LOC website. Check out its exhibits, visit the main reading room, or learn to read microfilm while you’re there.

  • Tyber Creek Wine Bar (84 T St. NW) offers free Wi-Fi during its daytime cafe hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

  • Royal (501 Florida Ave. NW) operates as a coffee shop by day with free Wi-Fi. They open at 8 a.m. daily and ask that patrons stow laptops at 5 p.m.

  • Takoma Beverage Company (6917 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park, Md.) is situated in the heart of Takoma Park’s bustling main street and pulls double duty as a cocktail bar and restaurant by night, and lively coffee shop by day. It has plenty of space for furloughed workers to park and use the internet as they enjoy coffee and pastries.

  • The Coupe (3415 11th St NW). Bring your laptop or a book to the Coupe’s coffee (or cocktail) bar, stuffed with mismatched cushioned chairs and wide tables. It’s open until 10 p.m. in the winter.

  • Jacob’s Coffee House (401 8th St. NE) is a pleasant, quaint little shop in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It has plenty of seating and outlets and a fantastic patio (in case you catch a particularly sunny afternoon), good coffee, and breakfast food.

Get out:

Whether the hit to your morale is so hard you’re contemplating a new career path, you need a new paycheck pronto, or you’ve decided to simply leave D.C. now that you can’t make rent, here are a few options for you:

D.C.’s Department of Employment Services hosts the American Job Center, a career counseling and job assistance service that also provides employment-related workshops.

You can ditch federal D.C. for local D.C. by working for a city think tank: The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute is hiring a policy director and the D.C. Policy Center is hiring a fellow.

Perhaps you want to disconnect from the world of government entirely. You could work on an organic farm for a while through WWOOF, or teach in a different part of the world.

Go to the theater:

Federal employees, whether essential personnel or furloughed, can use their IDs to claim discounted theater tickets. 

  • Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is offering feds 15 percent off seats to its upcoming run of BLKS, opening Feb. 4, with the online code SHUTDOWN.
  • Arena Stage is offering federal workers free tickets (two per household) to performances of Kleptocracy between Jan. 18 to 23 and The Heiress between Feb. 8 and 13. Call the box office at (202) 554-9066 or reserve online.
  • Studio Theatre is offering feds 50 percent off tickets to Admissions, opening Jan. 16, with the online code DCisOPEN. The deal expires Jan. 31.
  • Signature Theatre will present a special performance of its upcoming Judy Garland cabaret for government workers (military and civilian) only on Jan. 23.
  • Herndon’s NextStop Theatre is offering furloughed workers 50 percent off weeknight tickets to its production of [title of show], running through Jan. 27, with the online code FED19.
  • The National Theatre is offering furloughed workers 30 percent off tickets to the Jan. 18 performance of School of Rock: The Musical with the code FEDERAL.
  • Pointless Theatre has launched a “Bring a Fed for Free” deal. Federal workers get one free ticket with the purchase of a ticket to Vision of Love, running at Dance Loft on 14 through Feb. 9.
  • Shakespeare Theatre Company is giving away limited free tickets to preview performances of Richard III between Feb. 5 and 10 with the code FEDERAL19. Limit four tickets per ID.
  • Although the Kennedy Center receives some federal funding, performances will continue as scheduled. Check out free shows every day at 6 p.m. on the Millennium Stage.

Go to a museum or gallery:

A few non-Smithsonian museums in the region are free. One of them is Glenstone, a contemporary art retreat in the wilds of Montgomery County. It reopened with a vast new expansion in October, and is even public transit-accessible. Read this longform story on the history of Glenstone on your way to the museum. Here are some other venues to check out:

  • Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center. 4519 Rhode Island Ave., North Brentwood.

  • African American Civil War Museum. 1925 Vermont Ave NW.

  • Dumbarton Oaks. 1703 32nd St. NW.

  • American University Museum at the Katzen. 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

  • Photoworks at Glen Echo Park. 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo.

  • Touchstone Gallery. 901 New York Ave. NW.

  • Studio Gallery. 2108 R St. NW.

  • Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. 10 First St. SE.

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science Art Gallery. 1200 New York Ave. NW.

  • Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences. 2101 Constitution Ave. NW.

If the shutdown carries on for a few more weeks, add these venues, which will be opening new shows later this month, to your list:

  • Hemphill (upcoming exhibition opens Jan. 26). 1515 14th St. NW. #300.

  • Martha Spak Gallery at The Wharf (upcoming exhibition opens Jan. 30). 60 District Square SW.

And here are some amazing exhibits you can’t see—because the government is shutdown:

Concerns are (rightly) focused on the thousands of unpaid federal employees and halted services. But, as Daniel Sallick, the board chair for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, wrote in a recent op-ed for Art News, it also matters that the nation’s art museums are shut down: “Because of the government shutdown, the nation is getting a taste of life without some of our essential culture, including our deep yearning for art,” he writes. “This is not an existence anyone would choose to sustain.” City Paper agrees.

Below, some of the best exhibitions currently on display at Smithsonian museums that you can’t see. Take note and be sure to visit them once the shutdown is over, because some of these exhibitions won’t be up much longer. —Matt Cohen

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden:

Charline von Heyl: Snake Eyes

On view until Jan. 27.

Amid the Hirshhorn’s vast collection of forward-thinking mixed media and digital installations is an old-fashioned painting show. Charline von Heyl draws from a wide range of influences and styles, from cubism to pop art, to create art that’s as exquisite as it is beguiling. Read City Paper’s review here.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse

On view until April 28.

There’s a good chance that this interactive installation by the Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has crossed your Instagram feed. Comprised of 300 incandescent light bulbs suspended overhead, Lozano-Hemmer’s installation responds to a sensor interface, which picks up the pulse of anyone who touches it and flashes to the rhythm of their heartbeat.

National Gallery of Art:

Rachel Whiteread

On view until Jan. 13.

“Ghost,” English artist Rachel Whiteread’s 1990 sculpture, is one of the greatest pieces of 20th century art, full stop. And the NGA’s Whiteread exhibition is one of the best surveys of the artist’s career, with nearly 100 objects from her 30-year career, including not just sculptures, but photos, drawings, and archival material. Read City Paper’s review here.

Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950

On view until Feb. 18.

Most people might only know of Gordon Parks from a small sample of his vast career: His photography in publications like Ebony, Vogue, and Life, or his film work as the director of the blaxploitation classic Shaft. But the National Gallery of Art’s Gordon Parks exhibit focuses on the famed photographer’s formative years, spent taking photos for the Farm Security Administration, Office of War Information, and Standard Oil (New Jersey). Read City Paper’s review here.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum:

Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen

On view until Jan. 6.

There’s a paranoid quality to Trevor Paglen’s work. And that quality is at its most apparent in SAAM’s mid-career survey of the American artist, who’s known for taking on heavy themes of mass surveillance and data collection in his work. Sites Unseen is as striking as it is terrifying: gorgeous shots of landscape photograph that not-so-subtly tackles the ever-creeping presence of military surveillance on everyday life. Read City Paper’s review here.

Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs

On view until Jan. 27.

When Diane Arbus began work on her seminal portfolio, photography wasn’t considered a serious form of art. A box of ten photographs changed all that; Arbus was the first photographer to be featured in the notoriously stuffy Artforum and the Venice Biennale. The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s robust exploration of Arbus’ best-known work traces the history of the project, from its conception, to her untimely death, and her posthumous legacy. Read City Paper’s review here.

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor

On view until March 17.

The SAAM is currently hosting the first major retrospective of outsider artist Bill Traylor, who died in 1949 and left behind more than a thousand pieces of art. Though the SAAM only displays a fraction of that collection, it’s still a hefty sampling—155 works, to be exact—from the prolific artist, whose work exists on the outside looking in. Read City Paper’s review here.

National Portrait Gallery:

Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today

On view until Aug. 18.

Think the “selfie” is a recent phenomenon? Think again. The National Portrait Gallery carefully culled works from its own collection to trace the origins of the self-portrait, from 1900 onward, with rich pieces from renowned artists over the past century, including Chuck Close, Imogen Cunningham, Fritz Scholder, June Wayne, Faith Ringgold, and dozens more. Read City Paper’s review here.

National Museum of African American History and Culture:

Watching Oprah

On view until June.

Nearly three years after its opening, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is still the Smithsonian’s hottest ticket. And for good reason—its five floors of priceless exhibit tell the story of the African-American experience. One of those exhibitions is a celebration of one of the biggest humans in the world: Oprah Winfrey. From outfits to childhood photos, Watching Oprah explores the cultural impact of the American icon. Read City Paper’s review here.

Anacostia Community Museum:

A Right To The City

On view until April 20, 2020.

Among the Smithsonian exhibits that you can’t see right now is one that speaks most to District residents. A Right To The City, currently on view at the Smithsonian’s excellent Anacostia Community Museum, chronicles the history of resisting gentrification in D.C. It’s an important story that all Washingtonians, no matter how long they’ve lived here, should know. Read City Paper’s review here.

Past events:

Ride Metro (maybe) for free:

The WMATA board will vote to enact an emergency policy to offer free rides for federal workers at a 3 p.m. meeting on Friday. It would take effect on Monday, Jan. 28. Workers would need to show their ID cards at disability access gates while the shutdown lasts. (This vote was cancelled after the government temporarily reopened.)

Take some classes:

American University’s School of Professional and Extended Studies is offering free workshops and networking opportunities to furloughed employees and contractors affected by the shutdown. Check here for an updated list of events for Jan. 22-25. (While the website advertises that these classes are for alumni, any furloughed employee or government contractor is very welcome to attend).

Join a protest:

Starting Jan. 23, Federal employees, their unions, and their friends say they will be taking to the Hart Senate Office Building all day, every day at until the shutdown ends. In a call to “Occupy Hart,” they said their goal is to put pressure on the Senate to end the shutdown.  More info here.

On MLK Day, attend a town hall meeting on race and the shutdown: 

Community of Hope African Methodist Episcopal church in Prince George’s County is hosting a town hall on Monday, Jan. 21 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. to provide a platform for area residents and leaders to discuss how the shutdown impacts communities of color. “Black people, in particular, make up 12 percent of the US population but more than 18 percent of the federal workforce, according to a study by the Partnership for Public Service,” says a release describing the event. Anyone can attend, and area unions are invited. 

Clean Lincoln’s Cottage: President Lincoln’s Cottage is organizing a cleanup of Fort Stevens, 13th and Quackenbos streets NW, on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 10 a.m. Fort Stevens is one of the many federally managed parks in D.C. that is not being regularly cleaned due to the shutdown. To participate, email or comment on Facebook. (Also, federal employees get free admission during the shutdown.)

Join U.S. Representatives at a rally to end the shutdown: Rep. Jamie Raskin, whose district includes many Maryland suburbs, will host a rally outside the Silver Spring Civic Building at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Virginia Reps. Don Beyer and Abigail Spanberger will join him, along with American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox. They “will share how the shutdown has affected their friends, family members, neighbors, and community,” per a press release from Raskin’s office. And it won’t be totally dreary: The DC Labor Chorus is also scheduled to perform!

Protest outside the White House: The Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO is rallying on Thursday to end the partial shut down. The protest is set for noon at 815 16th St. NW.

Stay on the path: On Jan. 8: American University’s School of Public Affairs is offering free skills and management training to furloughed federal employees. Classes include Theories of Change for Foreign Policy, Principles of Geographic Information Science, Emotional Intelligence, Effective Presentations, Dealing with Change, Project Management, and Podcasting. The event runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. You have to RSVP, so email if you plan to attend. 

Fight for the right to get married during a shutdown: Show up to the D.C. Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8, when the Council will consider the Let Our Vows Endure Emergency Amendment Act of 2019, which would allow the mayor’s office to issue marriage licenses. (Update: Councilmembers voted unanimously to pass the LOVE Act.)

Contributors: Alexa Mills, Caroline Jones, Joshua Kaplan, Morgan Baskin, Matt Cohen, Mitch Ryals, Kayla Randall, Laura Hayes, Brian McEntee, Cuneyt Dil, Kelyn Soong, Julia Airey