Real Estate

Museums are in a race to save America’s treasures from climate change


The nation’s museums are facing increased flooding and more frequent wildfires, and all that history inside is at risk. The value at stake is incalculable. Now the rush is on to make the structures more resilient, but funding that will be a feat.

The problem is particularly acute at the nation’s Smithsonian museums. At the museum of American History, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., water is already rising. On a dry day, in the midst of two dry weeks, there was water down in the bowels of the building.

As Nancy Bechtol, director of all Smithsonian facilities, explained, “It’s just groundwater.”

Bechtol is responsible for 13 million square feet of museum space, most on the Mall,…


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