WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian Institution, citing security concerns, today will start to bar public parking in underground garages in the popular National Air and Space Museum and at the nearby National Museum of American History.
The changes, announced Friday, at the height of the tourist season, mean that public parking spaces near the six Smithsonian museums along the Mall will be reduced to 300 from 367 on weekdays and to 320 from 800 on weekends.
"It is our responsibility to our many visitors to take all reasonable steps that will assure their safety in the nation's capital," Robert McC. Adams, the Smithsonian's secretary, said. "Elementary prudence dictates that underground public parking in this location constitutes an unnecessary risk."
Although the changes were prompted by security concerns, presumably including the possibility of terrorist attacks, Adams denied receipt of any bomb threats to the museum buildings or their exhibits--many of them irreplaceable.
Madeleine Jacobs, a museum information officer, said the changes were part of an overall security program that has been under development for several years.