Smithsonian unveils $2 billion museum face-lift

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Smithsonian has unveiled plans to give museums and gardens along the south side of Washington’s National Mall a $2 billion face-lift, creating more welcoming entrances, improving connections between museums and refurbishing the iconic Smithsonian Castle.

The master plan unveiled Thursday would be paid for with a mix of federal and private money and implemented over 10 to 20 years. Construction won’t likely start for five to seven years. At the plan’s heart are improvements to the first Smithsonian building, the Smithsonian Castle, which opened in 1855.

The plan calls for the Smithsonian Castle to get two new underground levels. And two other museums would get entrances closer to the National Mall.

The plan was designed by the Copenhagen- and New York-based Bjarke Ingels Group.