WEST BRANCH — The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is closed under the partial government shutdown, cutting short its Holiday Traditions Christmas trees exhibit.
A significant tourist attraction in West Branch, the facility is part of National Archives and Presidential Libraries network. Though the grounds are open, a message on the attraction’s website warns that “due to the shutdown of the Federal Government, National Archives facilities are closed, websites and social media are not being updated or monitored, and activities are canceled, with some exceptions.”
Its Holiday Traditions exhibit, which features 17 decorated trees that each showcase a holiday tradition from around the world, was scheduled to run through Jan. 6.
“Our Christmas tree exhibit is popular and so we usually catch families going to and from being with families around Christmas,” said Director Tom Schwartz, who referred other questions to the national public affairs office.
West Branch Mayor Roger Laughlin said the museum draws potential shoppers and diners to town. To his knowledge, he said, the workers are furloughed but have received back pay in past government shutdowns.
“It’s a big asset to this town, it really is. To small-town Iowa, it’s valuable,” Laughlin said. “It’s almost a bad time because it is Christmastime so some people might stop in as they’re traveling for the holidays.”
Dustin Hills, shift manager for Herb N’ Lou’s Pizza in West Branch, said during the museum’s peak season in the spring and summer, his restaurant can see from 50 to 100 diners.
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“This time of year it slows down quite a bit when the weather’s colder,” Hills said, although his restaurant missed out on some business because the museum’s Christmas event wasn’t finished. “I would say that if this shutdown lasts any longer than a couple months we might see it affect us.”
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