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November 27, 1999

Warm Weather Delays D.C. Skating

Filed at 11:44 a.m. EDT
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Gallery of Art has refurbished an ice rink on the National Mall, allowing visitors to skate to music while surrounded by works of notable sculptors. But, so far, Mother Nature has not cooperated. 

The warm weather in the nation's capital has kept skaters from using the rink, which sits in the gallery's new sculpture garden between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument. 

The rink, scheduled to open Nov. 15, is surrounded by the gallery's new sculpture garden, including a 24-foot bronze spider by French-American sculptor Louise Bourgeois and a 19-foot typewriter eraser, with brush, by Swedish-American Claes Oldenburg. 

A compact disc system, with 24 speakers mounted on light poles in such a way as not to disturb others viewing only the art, provides music for the skaters. Clear glass dasher boards surround the rink to keep the skaters to a single entrance and enable them to see the sculptures too. 

So far this year, the rink has served as an ornamental pool with a big fountain. 

New ice-making equipment was installed for the opening of the planned opening of the rink. But for the ice to set properly, the temperature has to come close to freezing at night, and rise to no more that 55 degrees in the daytime. 

So far nature has not cooperated with the thermometer in the nation's capital hovering in unseasonable 60s and 70s. With cooler weather expected, maybe there will be better luck this week, although nobody could say when skaters might be able to hit the ice. 

``They're thinking of trying it out Tuesday, and maybe they could let the skaters in by (next) Saturday,'' said Patricia O'Connell of the gallery's public relations staff. ``But there may be a different story on Monday.'' 

Whenever the colder weather comes, admission to the rink will be $5.50. Skates and a locker can be rented for $2.50. 

Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company