With an Art Strike and a New Presidency on the Horizon, Museums Prepare for Inauguration Day

An ongoing list of museum closures, admissions policy changes, and more


The National Mall.


As the inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump approaches, the art world has been mobilizing. Over 100 artists, curators, and gallerists have signed a letter for the J20 Art Strike, an art-world protest that calls for the closure of U.S. museums, galleries, and cultural institutions on January 20, the day Trump will take office. Among the signees: the photographer Cindy Sherman, the New Yorker’s Hilton Als, the activist-artist Tania Bruguera. But few museums are heeding their call. Some have changed their admission policies, but have decided not to close; others will be open for business as usual, with the hopes of promoting creative expression.

Below is an ongoing list of the museums that have made statements about their plans for January 20 and the following weekend. As museums continue making announcements, we’ll keep updating it with more information.

Museums Offering Free or Pay-What-You Wish Admission

– The Whitney Museum will remain open on Inauguration Day, but will institute a pay-what-you-wish admission for the whole day. On Tuesday, the museum’s director, Adam Weinberg, said at a cocktail reception that the Whitney would do the opposite of closing for the J20 Art Strike. “This is America. And we really need to express what we believe,” he said, continuing, “It is our role not to let them own what we think of as America but to express what we believe is America.”

– At the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, all admission on January 20 will be free. The museum said in a statement on its Facebook page that it will be doing this “in celebration of the First Amendment, and our ongoing commitment to honoring the multiplicity of voices and perspectives that make The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the United States so deeply rich.”

– The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. will offer free admission on January 21 and 22. It’s also hosting free “nasty women” tours of its collection.

– The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis will be free on January 20. Olga Viso, the museum’s executive director, said in a statement that the museum will waive all admission fees on that day because it intends to “[offer] a space of gathering and respite where all ideas and perspectives are always welcome.”

– Following the Whitney’s lead, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York will have pay-what-you-wish admission on January 20.

– The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston will offer pay-what-you-wish admission as well. “We believe strongly in the role of museums to advance discourse and engagement in a pluralistic society, and invite all in our community to join us in reflection and conversation on January 20 and in the weeks, months, and years to come,” the museum said in a statement.

– The Rhode Island School of Design Museum will offer free admission on January 20. Doing so, the museum said in a statement, will hopefully cause “you to look closely and think deeply” in its galleries.

– The New Museum in New York will have a pay-what-you-wish admission policy on January 20 “in recognition of art’s power to transform communities and to foster tolerance and empathy.”

– The Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver plans to remain open on January 20 with a pay-what-you-wish admission policy.

El Museo del Barrio in New York will be free on January 20.

Museums Closing for Inauguration Day

– The National Museum of Women in the Arts will be closed on January 20. This was announced in December, however, and is unrelated to the J20 Art Strike.

– Despite the crowds in Washington, D.C., all Smithsonian museums will stay open on January 20, with the exception of the National Museum of the American Indian and the Renwick Gallery.

– The Queens Museum in New York will close its galleries in solidarity with the J20 Art Strike. Instead of running business as usual, the museum will host an afternoon devoted to the production of protest materials for upcoming marches and actions.

Museums That Plan to Remain Open

– The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 will both remain open on inauguration Day.

– Likewise, the Guggenheim Museum in New York has no plans to close on January 20. “We believe that museums can and should be a place of reflection and inspiration for all people, and we hope that our visitors will find welcome in a place where they can feel included in a great common cause—art and its transformative effects,” the Guggenheim said in a statement.

– The Studio Museum in Harlem won’t close, either. “We believe passionately that the radical voices of artists are essential to our democracy,” the museum’s communications director wrote in a statement. “We invite our friends, neighbors and families, whose bright spirits have the power to illuminate our future, to join us on January 20 and every day.”

The Broad in Los Angeles will keep its doors open. “Many of the artworks in the Broad collection and currently on view at the museum are essential expressions of basic freedoms and reflect important social, cultural, racial and political issues,” the museum wrote in a statement. “We want to ensure the public has the opportunity to experience those artworks.” (General admission is always free at the Broad.)

– The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will also be open on January 20. “Our entire program and mission, every day, is an expression of inclusion and appreciation of every culture,” the museum’s director of communications told the New York Times.

– The Jewish Museum in New York will stay open on January 20, in an effort, the museum said in a statement, “to serve its diverse audiences.”


– The Brooklyn Museum will be hosting a marathon reading of Langston Hughes’s 1935 poem “Let America Be America Again” on January 20. Participants in the reading will be announced within the coming week.

– On January 24, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago will host “School Night: Self-Care as Warfare,” an event in which Chicago-based artists, activists, writers, and musicians will discuss wellness techniques people can use in Trump’s America.

– The Bard Graduate Center will stage readings from the United States Constitution on Inauguration Day. Gallery visitors can join faculty, students, and gallery staff to do the readings.

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