The Smithsonian has been running a scavenger hunt on the National Mall for two weeks, asking the public to help them track down artifacts that need cleaning up.
But even though workers have been busy and scattered around the mall, the signs that alert passersby to the work are still standing.
Nancy Snyder, the curator of the 19th-century history program at the National Museum of American History, says museum officials are working with Smithsonian contractors to make the buildings as sturdy as possible.
“We don’t want the buildings to fall, and we don’t want the signs to collapse,” she said.
Workers use sound cannons to blast out hundreds of gargantuan dust clouds to help empty the natural ventilation holes in the building and thus prevent the fixtures from collapsing. The makeshift pest-control methods are effective, Snyder said, but the signage that alerts visitors to the ongoing operation may not be so obvious.
“I’d think if you look up and down, you’d see them on a corner,” she said of the work.
Visitors traveling to the National Mall and surrounding areas should “expect periodic construction,” the Smithsonian warns.
The first major renovation is at the Newseum, according to tour guides who go through the exhibits daily. The Newseum, which opened in 2007, is one of the busiest museums on the mall. Tours to the exhibits are free, but the actual museum admission can cost visitors around $25.
The renovations are planned to last about seven months.
Snyder said Smithsonian officials are hopeful they will get an extension before construction starts on the manhole cover and roof of the Ellipse near the Washington Monument.
“We’ve never done this before at our museum; we’re learning as we go,” she said.