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Washington Monument to reopen in May

Washington Monument with scaffolding in the moonlight. Photo courtesy of NASA

Katia Hetter

CNN

(CNN) -- The remaining scaffolding around the Washington Monument will begin to come down this week.

The monument will officially reopen on May 12, the National Park Service announced Tuesday. One of Washington's most popular sites, the monument was closed on August 23, 2011, after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake caused more than 150 cracks in the structure.

The $15 million restoration project took nearly three years to complete. The National Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall are planning to host a reopening ceremony at 10 a.m. ET On May 12.

Public tours will begin that day at 1 p.m., and tickets will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis that morning at the Washington Monument Lodge.

Starting April 16, tickets for tours on future dates will be available at the park service's reservation page, www.recreation.gov. The park service will offer extended operating hours, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., through the end of summer.

"We are delighted to be in the homestretch with the repairs to the Washington Monument almost complete, and we look forward to the re-opening on May 12 so we can once again welcome visitors to this iconic monument to our nation's first President," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, in a press release.

Congress allocated $7.5 million to the restoration project, and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein matched those funds with a $7.5 million donation to the monument's restoration via the Trust for the National Mall.

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