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The Best Museums In Dc

National Museum Of Natural History: Over 127 Million Natural History Pieces

Top 5 Free Museums in Washington DC

One thing we can say for sure about this museum is that you wont run out of exciting pieces to see. With more than 127 million natural history artifacts, there is something for everyone here. You will find a vast collection of ancient dinosaur bones and even the Hope Diamond.

Our favorite part about the National Museum of Natural History is the Deep Time exhibit, where you can travel back in time and experience ancient history yourself.

Theme: Natural history

Hirshhorn Museum And Sculpture Garden: Extensive Collection Of Modern And Contemporary Art

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is home to some stunning works of art from the likes of Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, and Henry Moore. This is a must-see attraction if you are in the city.

Our favorite part about this museum is the sculpture garden, which includes the famous Wish Tree by Yoko Ono. The serene plant life and running streams make this an excellent place to relax.

Theme: Significant works of art Opening times: Sculpture Garden, daily 10 am 4:30 pm Location: Independence Ave. SW & , 7th St SW, Washington, DC 20560

National Museum Of African Art

The National Museum of African Art on Independence Avenue on the National Mall displays temporary and permanent exhibits of African art and artifacts. There are around 12,000 items in total originating from different African cultures. The museum also hosts pieces from the Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection.

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Smithsonian American Art Museum/smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

You get two museums in one at this celebration of American art, occupying the glorious Greek Revival Old Patent Office in Penn Quarter. The Smithsonian American Art Museum exults more than three centuries of art, ranging from Early America to Western Art to Impressionism to Modernism. Highlights include the worlds largest collection of New Deal art, a fine collection of American impressionism , and Albert Bierstadts celebratory Western landscapes. At the adjoining Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, youll find the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House, but these arent necessarily their official portraits. Some are staged, others are just fun. Look for Grover Clevelands portrait in French Impressionist style, Bill Clintons abstract portrayal by Chuck Close, and the most recent, Kehinde Wileys recently unveiled Barack Obama, sitting in a leafy garden setting.

INSIDER TIPThe museums Kogod Courtyard, with a canopy by Norman Foster, a snack bar, and free WiFi, is a favorite hang-out spot.

General Admission: Free

African American History And Culture Museum

10 of the World

This is the newest addition to the Smithsonian Museums and still requires a ticketed entrance during peak tourist season . This museum focuses on the African American experience and begins its exhibits all the way back to the slave trade era through today’s experience.

Highlights include Harriet Tubman’s Hymnal and Michael Jackson’s fedora.

To better plan your visit, we recommend checking out our guide to the African American History and Culture museum here.

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Best Washington Dc Museums For Kids By Age

A family trip to Washington, DC would simply be incomplete without a visit to some of the best museums for kids of all ages. From the National Gallery of Art to more unique choices, like the International Spy Museum, DC has some of the best museums in the United States and even the world! Whether your kids are art, space, or history enthusiasts, theyll find something theyll love. Plus, you dont have to worry if youre traveling with fussy toddlers or bored teens. Here, we break down the ideal museums by kids ages to help narrow the many choices, including elementary-aged children. DC is home to the Smithsonian Museums, which are free to enter, as well as some additional ticket-based options that are worth exploring based on your time and interest. Read on for the best Washington DC museums for your family adventures with kids of all ages!

RELATED ARTICLE: 9 Things To Do in Washington, DC with Kids

Fords Theater National Historic Site

Take in American history at Fords Theater National Historic Site, the site of President Abraham Lincolns assassination. Though this attraction in Penn Quarter may not be suitable for younger children, its great for older kids who understand the history behind it. While most known as a live-performance theater, there is also a museum to complement what elementary school children may be learning in school about Lincolns life and role in American history. Families can also take a self-guided tour that offers unique and informative exhibits they showcase the highlights of President Lincolns presidency from being sworn in until the end of his life. Certainly, this is one of the best DC museums for young kids, especially those who have learned a bit of history in school.

Advance tickets are currently required to visit, and the museum and theater are open most days of the week. Check out their website for more details.

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Hillwood Estate Museum And Gardens

Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post filled her northwest DC home with French and Russian works of art, always with the mind of turning it into a museum. Upon her death in 1973, the doors of this sumptuous, 36-room Georgian mansion were opened to the public as the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens, providing a glimpse into a spectacular world of exquisite taste and fine living, a place where presidents, royals, dignitaries, and celebrities were fêted. Highlights include the Louis XVI drawing room, Russian icons and tapestries, and an impressive collection of Faberg eggs, one of the largest outside Russia. Theres also a dacha on the vast, landscaped grounds that features temporary exhibits.

INSIDER TIPThe garden café is a relaxing place for lunch or tea.

General Admission: $18

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Best 5 Museums in Washington DC | United States Museums

Youre given an identity card of a real-life person who experienced the Holocaust upon entering the blocky, redbrick UnitedStates Holocaust Memorial Museum near the National Mall, and by the end of your visit youll know whether they survived or not. Clearly, this is not an easy museum to visit, but its an important one to remind of the atrocities committed by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 toward Jews, Romans, gays, the mentally ill, and others. The exhibitions detailing the history are detailed, some are graphic. At the end, a Hall of Remembrance provides a much-needed chance to reflect.

INSIDER TIPThis museum is not recommended for children under 11, but the Remember the Children: Daniels Story exhibit on the ground floor tells the story from a young boys perspective no entry tickets are required.

General Admission: Timed entry tickets are free but between March and August must be secured in advance or obtained on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 10 am.

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Bureau Of Engraving And Printing

This massive building offers guided tours that engage both kids and adults as you can watch real currency being printed right in front of your eyes. This may just make it on the list of fun places for kids in Washington D.C. Watching millions of dollars being printed can be surprisingly entertaining!

What Is On Our Radar: Juneteenth Events

Besides the various festivals, block parties, and pop-up markets across the area, here are some other events that may interest you:

  • Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. The How to Be an Antiracist author discusses his new book, How to Raise an Antiracist .
  • Sounds of Africa. Attend a summer outdoor concert highlighting songs of liberation and those of the African diaspora .
  • Fish fry day. Closing out Caribbean Restaurant Week and in celebration of Juneteenth, enjoy fried fish at a Caribbean-style Nite Carnival.
  • The foods of Juneteenth. Attend a garden-to-table demo exploring African diaspora crops, especially those which grow well in the DMV .
  • When monuments attack. This lecture will discuss how we reconciledebates surrounding memorials and monuments in light of race, community, and national identity .
  • Drumfolk. This performance at Arena Stage is inspired by the Stono Rebellion of 1739 where 20 enslaved Africans from Angolalost their right to use drums, after starting a revolt in South Carolina and the Negro Act of 1740 .

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National Air And Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum and The National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center are the two Smithsonian museums dedicated to aviation and space.

The National Air and Space Museum is on the National Mall so it’s easy enough to get to as it’s right in the city center. This museum traces the history of flight by man and its collections contain such historical aircraft as the Wright Flyer and the Spirit of St Louis. There’s also a planetarium, IMAX theater, and a public observatory with a telescope for viewing the heavens.

The National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center is not in Washington, DC itself, but in Chantilly in Virginia which is around thirty miles from DC. The center is where all the large craft is on display. Among them are the Space Shuttle Discovery, a Concorde plane, and a B-29.

The National Law Enforcement Museum

The Best Museums in Washington D.C.

The National Law Enforcement Museum is a new edition to DCs renowned lineup of museums. The state-of-the-art facility memorializes American law enforcement and is aptly located in Judiciary Square, near federal and municipal courthouses. More than 20,000 objects tell the story of this countrys law enforcers, including the past, present and future. Featured historic artifacts include J. Edgar Hoovers desk and Al Capones vest. Visitors can also participate in a training simulator and pay their respects in the Hall of Remembrance. The museum is open from Sunday Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with hours extending until 9 p.m. on Thursday.


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Shenandoah National Park Va

Road tripping on Skyline Drive is like cruising through a postcard. The picturesque byway leads you to Shenandoah National Park, where you can hop on the Appalachian Trail and peep where Herbert Hoover vacationed at Rapidan Camp.

If you do just one thing Stargaze in the Big Meadows area, near Rapidan Fire Road. On nights when the sky is clear enough, you can even see the Milky Way.

Want to stay overnight? Book a room at Lewis Mountain Cabins.

National Gallery Of Art And Sculpture Garden

Is your teen a fan of ancient, modern, or contemporary art ? The National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden offers exploration across many centuries worth of art 3,200 works on view. This includes indoor galleries, as well as 21 modern and contemporary sculptures on display outside in the sculpture garden! Certainly, it will keep any family entertained for hours. Admire famous portraits, soak up 14th to 21st-century prints, paintings, and photos depicting scenes from cities and countryside alike, and take in the whimsical mosaics or swooping structures. Budding artists are welcome to take their sketchbooks if inspired to do some drawing. The Pavilion Café offers a picturesque place to fuel up for more family exploration. There are virtual learning and event resources on the website before, during, or after your travels.

Certainly, one of the best DC museums for teens, the museum is open daily. Learn more about the museums visitor policies.

Nicole Ross Peirce

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Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History And Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture doesnt pull any punches when showcasing the full history of black people in the United States. They offer a stark look at what life was like for early slaves, and the rough transition to freedom.

They also have exhibits displaying the full breadth of black contributions to American society with medicine, cuisine, art, music, and science. Over 40,000 unique items are housed in the museum including relics from prominent black leaders and influencers like James Baldwin and Pauli Murray.

Like all other Smithsonian facilities, the entrance to the museum is free. They also host regular events around the year and host a number of community programs.

National Museum Of Asian Art

Explore the Best of Smithsonian Museums | Washington DC

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art comprise the National Museum of Asian Art and are dedicated to maintaining, exhibiting, and illuminating exemplary works of Asian art. The Freer Museum was DCs first art museum on the Smithsonian campus, a gift from railroad entrepreneur Charles Lang Freer. The Sackler Gallery was added in 1987 thanks to funds and 1,000 objects from physician and medical publisher, Dr. Arthur M. Sackler. Combined, they exist not only for the sake of displaying art, but to address broad questions of culture and identity in the contemporary world.

With more than 45,000 objects originating from ancient east-Asian countries, this free museum in D.C. is the nations foremost center for the care and scientific study of Asian art. Researchers work to increase the understanding of the artwork by bringing together a broad portfolio of exhibitions which include sculpture, paintings, textiles, photographs, and other media.

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The Art Lovers Museum Day

For a day of art-minded museum hopping in the DMV, what we call the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area, start your day at the National Gallery of Art, one of the nations most important cultural repositories, recommends Ariana Panbechi-Cole, program manager for curriculum and instruction at Sothebys Institute of Art.

Panbechi-Cole, a self-declared Renaissance nerd, suggests heading straight to the museums Italian Renaissance collection. Thats where youll find the only da Vinci painting on permanent public view in the Americas, Ginevra de Benci. Theres also an impressive work by Raphael called The Alba Madonna that is breathtaking, she says.

The NGAs West Building holds works by van Gogh as well as masterpieces by Rembrandt and Monet. The East Building houses modern and contemporary art by the likes of Pollack and Picasso. I greatly admire pop art, so I always visit Roy Lichtensteins Look Mickey, Andy Warhols A Boy for Meg, and Wayne Thiebauds Cakes, which is one of the most visually delightful pieces in the NGAs collection, Panbechi-Cole says.

After this much art appreciation, youll surely need a pick-me-up. Enjoy a scoop of gelato at NGAs Espresso & Gelato Bar or take a break in the NGA Sculpture Garden where you can sit and admire Robert Indianas AMOR or Louise Bourgeoiss Spider.

For your afternoon viewing, Panbechi-Cole offers up two possible itineraries one stays local and one ventures farther afield.

The 16 Best Museums In Washington Dc

While Washington, DC hasn’t always been the capital of the USA, it’s a city that was specifically built to serve that purpose since its founding at the end of the 18th century. Naturally, a lot of history has occurred since the 1790s so its not surprising there are as many museums in Washington, DC as there are.

What sets the museums in Washington, DCapart from museums in other American cities is their incredible diversity. Whether you’re hoping to see large collections of contemporary art, delve deep into the complexities of American history or see some dinosaur fossils, you’ll find a museum housing them in Washington, DC.

Visiting museums in Washington, DC with a suitcase in hand is a total no-no. You won’t get through the security checks and most museums don’t provide storage space for large personal items. One way to save yourself the stress and embarrassment of being denied entry is to use a Bounce Washington DC luggage storage facility.

Bounce has luggage locker facilities in Washington, DC that you’ll find are conveniently located, secure and economical places to leave your luggage while you enjoy the many cultural offerings the USA’s capital city has to offer.

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Best Museums In Dc: Learning And Exploring In The Nations Capital

The nations capital boasts some of the best museums in the world. And thankfully, many of them are free! This list of the best museums in DC offers some tried and true favorites as well as some off-the-beaten-path museums. So dont plan your next trip to D.C. without first reading through this list.

Another great thing about these museums is that they are worth visiting multiple times. With the sheer size of some of these museums and the temporary exhibits that are offered, these museums are fresh year after year. And, with all of the great activities that DC offers outside of their museums, you can double up on your trip. Whether it is an event like the Washington Kite Festival or one of the many government buildings, Washington DC is unique and one of the best vacation spots in the US.

Are you looking for even more museum-related lists? Check out our list of the best museums in the world and the best museums in NYC.

The Society Of The Cincinnati

8 of the Best Museums in Washington DC

This Gilded Age mansion in the Dupont Circle neighborhood showcases the eclectic décor, tapestries, furniture, sculpture, and paintings collected during various diplomatic postings around the world of its former owners and DC socialites, Larz and Isabel Anderson. But what truly sets it apart is the fact that its also the official headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati. You know, that historical society founded by Revolutionary War veterans in 1783 . Youll learn all about the nations oldest private patriotic organization on the first two floors.

INSIDER TIPA full roster of events with a patriotic twist is offered, including concerts and lectures.

General Admission: Free

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