National Museum Closes for WWI Work, by Unknown, 1918, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, Clerks of the Bureau of War Risk Insurance work at makeshift desks packed into areas not meant for offices, such as one of the display spaces of the United States National Museum, now the National Museum of Natural History Building. The Bureau first moved into the building in October 1917. At the request of President Wilson, the Board of Regents closed the museum to the public on July 16, 1918, and made available to the government the ground and two exhibition floors (138,600 sq. ft.) for the duration of the war for wartime activities. The museum reopened to the public in April 1919..