Washington, DC, is the nation’s capital and absolutely the pinnacle of American historical past. If it has occurred, you possibly can guess that there’s an ode to it in Washington, DC, and this fixation and centrality inside American historical past is what provides town its unbelievable museums. Washington, DC, has among the most visited museums in the United States.
With your cultural cravings prepared and ready, choices just like the Spy Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum assure you a unbelievable museum itinerary.
Top Museums in Washington DC
This information has compiled all one of the best of Washington DC’s museums into one extra-convenient checklist. Get a style of Washington’s infamous museum scene with these prime 10 museums in Washington, DC.
1. National Museum of African American History
The National Museum of African American History is likely one of the most visited museums in Washington, DC. It is the one nationwide museum devoted to documenting the African American expertise in the United States, and if you’re prepared for highly effective displays and greater than 40,000 artifacts, that is the museum to spend a morning at. The museum founder is Lonnie G. Bunch III – an esteemed historian and the primary ever African American to function head of the Smithsonian Institution.
Lonnie has pioneered an absolute icon in the Washington museum scene. Visitors can study the whole lot from the civil rights motion to the gifted artists all through the ages on the museum’s separate African artwork museum. There are even non permanent displays like Afrofuturism – a creative envisioning of ‘liberated futures for Black life’ – to flick through.
The Museum of African American History is correct in the center of Washington, DC, the proper addition to a busy day of sightseeing. Logistically it is sensible to squeeze this museum onto your itinerary. Since it’s free to enter, it’s gentle on the funds, too – win-win.
2. National Building Museum
Opening occasions: 10 am till 4 pm Thursday till Monday Cost: $10 per grownup
The National Building Museum may sound like a randomly themed museum. Still, it is likely one of the most fascinating choices in Washington, DC. Draw your thoughts away from Bob the Builder-style scenes and as an alternative envision a Corinthian-columned constructing with a large grand corridor.
Would you actually count on something much less from a museum devoted to structure, engineering, and design? The Building Museum is beautiful. Visitors wander by rooms upon rooms of distinctive scenes – from the Harry Potter-style grand corridor to a room of (barely bizarre-looking) blue spikes.
The museum curiously shows that we spend ‘close to 90% of our lives inside’, presenting the concept that we should always pay extra consideration to inside design and its affect on our well-being. Located only a quick stroll from the nation’s capital, the museum is probably the most enjoyable place to query and discover the human relationship with design.
3. International Spy Museum
Opening occasions: 9 am till 7 pm Monday to Thursday, 9 am till 8 pm Friday to Sunday Cost: $26
Okay, it doesn’t get a lot cooler than an International Spy Museum. The spy museum is a fascinating haven for all issues spy-related, be its interactive displays, artifacts like previous spy gadgets, and a few fascinating tales. While it’s family-friendly, the International Spy Museum caters to individuals throughout the board.
And regardless of its barely steeper entrance costs, it stays among the best museums to go to in Washington, DC. Its interactive promise is fulfilled with codes and challenges to crack all through your expertise. While you additionally get insights into previous spies, with American historical past, worldwide tales, and spy figures.
The Spy Museum is situated close to the Smithsonian Institution’s assortment of museums, together with the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a unbelievable attraction to mix with one among these museums, and it is usually scenically situated close by the Washington Channel – good for river views.
4. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is dreamy. The total venue is flight-themed, and also you stroll beneath suspended planes and early flight contraptions. The completely different displays create an pleasant feeling of sensory overload, with one thing on show in any respect ranges and areas.
There are round 8 rooms, and the entire expertise at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum takes at the least just a few hours. The museum paperwork the whole lot from the Apollo missions to the early planes and even a solitary tardis to enterprise into fictional flight historical past. This spot is likely one of the prime museums in Washington, DC – a private advice and good attraction on your pockets. It can be one of many iconic Smithsonian museums.
This museum is situated throughout the neighborhood of most different Smithsonian museums. It is accessible by way of public transport and simply slotted into your Washington, DC, itinerary. Keep this as one among your greatest choices for anybody wanting an perception into house and flight historical past.
5. National Mall
Opening occasions: 24/7 Cost: Free
This free museum is likely one of the most unusual choices in this information. Rather than being a conventional constructing with drab banners and measly displays right here and there, the National Mall covers over 300 acres of monuments and American historical past. The completely different monuments and landmarks are linked by a community of mountain climbing trails. If you are able to do one factor in Washington DC, we recommend you cease by National Mall to sightsee. In reality, the National Mall has among the better of Washington DC’s monuments and landmarks.
The park has over 100 monuments and memorials. It is a logo of not solely the center of Washington, DC but in addition the United States. You can go to the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King JR Memorial, and the dramatic waterfront Lincoln Memorial. It is a complete dream to go to with a digicam.
And in case you like historical past and aesthetic locations, you’ll be in for an actual deal with with this mix. The National Mall additionally allows you to see rather a lot in a short while, as it’s residence to lots of the main landmark sights in Washington, DC.
6. National Gallery of Art
Washington, DC, does artwork galleries, and it does them nicely. If you fancy searching modern artwork displays, then the National Gallery of Art is your alternative by default. The National Gallery of Art is residence to fashionable and modern artwork in numerous codecs – from an exquisite sculpture backyard to elegant wood-paneled corridors of gold-framed portrait after portrait. If you might be an artwork fanatic, that is the form of place the place goals are fabricated from. The National Gallery of Art is elegant to its core, with columns, atriums, domed ceilings, and elongated hall after hall. You may simply spend hours right here. The complete place is a bit of artwork in itself.
Rather than that eclectic fashionable artwork museum inside, the National Gallery of Art is tremendous luxurious and extra of a timeless, traditional museum. Keep this in thoughts when selecting between Washington DC’s artwork galleries.
7. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Holocaust is likely one of the saddest historic occasions of our time, and to pay your respects whereas studying extra, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a sobering place to go to. The United States Holocaust Museum opens 7 days per week and affords free timed entry slots staggered from 10 am till 5:30 pm. The museum is a not-for-profit and residing memorial to the occasions of the Holocaust and those that skilled it.
The essential exhibition spreads over three flooring and incorporates eyewitness testimonies, historic artifacts, movie, and pictures. If you wish to know extra about Holocaust, plan to spend a few hours in this part, because it particulars the whole lot from the rise of the Nazi occasion to the liberation of the camps in 1945.
There are then additional exhibitions on completely different flooring – together with one devoted to the ‘Americans and the Holocaust’ and an alternate perception into genocide with an exhibition on ‘Burma’s Path to Genocide’. Most hauntingly, there are two exhibitions, one devoted to the kids of the Holocaust and one known as ‘One Thousand and Seventy-eight Blue Skies’ – a photographic exhibition with particular person photos of the skies above each focus camp in Europe.
The United States Holocaust Museum is a robust and essential museum to go to. It is situated only a quick stroll from the Washington Monument and ideally mixed with a go to to the National Mall.
8. Hirshhorn Museum
Opening occasions: 10 am till 5:30 pm Cost: Free
Hirshhorn Museum is an absolute testomony to the fascinating phenomenon of contemporary artwork. The museum is about in a somewhat bizarre-looking doughnut-shaped constructing – a direct nod to its outlandish, quirky character if we ever did see one. Hirshhorn Museum has a continuing conveyor belt of nonstop exhibitions. In just some months in 2023, displays are devoted to modern Chinese images and Baseera Khan. The identical goes for occasions, too, and you’ll at all times take a look at the rammed exercise schedule after the exercise. These non permanent occasions are nice for households wanting low-cost children’ leisure. While completely, Hirshhorn Museum has over 12,000 items of paintings to gawp at and analyze.
Hirshhorn Museum is about throughout the little bubble of Smithsonian Institution museums. It is simple to entry by public transport or on foot. As we talked about, it’s the superb place for household actions. Hirshhorn Museum attracts the extra outgoing, action-loving artwork lover. So if you wish to keep away from the elegant however barely stuffy grandeur of among the extra formal galleries in Washington DC, Hirshhorn Museum is your greatest guess.
9. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
When you consider pure historical past, what do you consider? Probably David Attenborough and dinosaur fossils. Well, any longer, you possibly can add the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to that checklist. Every metropolis wants a pure historical past museum, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is likely one of the greatest museums in Washington, DC. It takes a specific caliber to be the capital’s pure historical past museum, so that you greatest imagine that this museum is the highest.
Visitors can glimpse among the world’s rarest gems and stand up near not one however dozens of dinosaur skeletons and fossils. And moreover all that, there are additionally stuffed animal species and different organic examples all through the museum. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is likely one of the most complete examples of pure historical past preservation in the United States. We advocate paying a go to.
10. National Museum of Asian Art
Opening occasions: 10 am till 5:30 pm Cost: Free
This beautiful Asian artwork museum is well one among Washington DC’s prime galleries, which, as you now know, is saying one thing. The museum is a unbelievable ode to Asian paintings from quite a few completely different nations. You’ll discover Middle Eastern, Korean, Indian, and Japanese artwork, to call just a few. There is gorgeous Arabic calligraphy to admire, Indian sculptures and pottery work, and stylish Japanese silk works. There are over 46,000 works to admire and flooring and flooring of displays to take in. The agency favourite room is the Peacock Room – so look ahead to that.
The National Museum supplies a extra various perception into historic artwork than many fashionable artwork galleries in Washington, DC. If you might be an fanatic in Asian artwork or simply wish to go to one of many specialist artwork museums, then the National Museum is a unbelievable possibility. It is in and amongst all of the Smithsonian museums, so that you’ll discover it straightforward to squeeze into your sightseeing.
11. Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is likely one of the prime museums in Washington, DC. As far as Smithsonian museums go, American artwork is likely one of the most particular however least uncommon museum classes. For any artwork fanatic, having such an intensive assortment of 1 sort of artwork in a single place is useful.
And the Smithsonian American Art Museum prides itself on being one among its largest, most inclusive collections worldwide. The paintings dates again to the colonial interval, however you’ll additionally see just a few items from right this moment. You can tour independently or take advantage of a complimentary strolling tour that’s run day by day.
Kogod Courtyard is an architectural characteristic of the museum itself that guests love – a considerable glass-enclosed courtyard with tropical vegetation and tons of pure lighting. It is value noting that the Smithsonian American Art Museum can be located in the third-oldest federal constructing in Washington, DC. And as soon as you might be accomplished, you possibly can simply mix it with a visit subsequent door to the National Portrait Gallery.
12. Museum of the Bible
The Museum of the Bible is likely one of the most spiritual Washington DC museums, if not probably the most spiritual Washington DC museum. It has an entire assortment of extremely prized sacred relics and displays, together with historical scrolls and ‘rare Bibles’. The constructing is superbly designed with stained glass home windows and church-like decor all through, and since it’s break up throughout six flooring, you have got a great deal of sights to get by. It isn’t simply traditionally beneficial with its displays; there are immersive alternatives in the Museum of the Bible. You may catch an Old or New Testament present and take a look at sculpture scenes just like the Jesus Nazareth scene.
The museum pioneers and funds huge quantities of analysis. Its museum shows cowl over 4,000 years of historical past, and due to this, it’s a actually energetic level of analysis. It is value checking in to see what talks and occasions can be found, because the museum attracts some actual business specialists.
13. Planet Word
Opening occasions: 10 am till 5 pm Wednesday to Friday, then 10 am till 6 pm Saturday to Monday, and closed Tuesday. Cost: Suggested donation of $10-15
Planet Word is a complete museum dedicated to the spoken phrase. The museum circles across the ideas of language and phrases, with the whole lot from karaoke to Scrabble. As guests, you indulge in visiting exhibit corridor after corridor of word-themed sights – from phrase timber open air to elegant libraries inside.
There are interactive actions, like a recording studio and a room instructing you the right way to create advert copy. Planet Word is unbelievable for anybody with youngsters or younger adults in a writing, journalistic, and musical profession. It is someplace to enterprise for an hour or two for some thought-provoking leisure.
The museum is located in a Nineteenth-century constructing with Victorian-style structure and is definitely set in the historic Franklin School. The Franklin School has National Historic Landmark standing as a result of it was the primary public training college in the United States as an unbiased nation. So it’s becoming to see that its legacy has continued with Planet Word – a museum dedicated to studying and language.
14. White House
Opening occasions: 7:30 am till 4 pm Cost: Free
Did that the White House is definitely a totally functioning museum? With capped numbers and restricted hours, after all. This iconic museum boasts a few of American historical past’s most well-known scenes. And in case you submit your tour requests with loads of warning- which is a minimum of 21 days and as much as three months in advance – then you possibly can spend just a few hours treading the identical carpets because the Obamas and Trumps. You may cease by the White House Visitor Center, which has over 90 completely different White House artifacts and a 14-minute movie. There are many interactive displays, archives, and even a museum store on the finish so that you can splurge in.
Visiting the White House from the surface is thrilling sufficient. Just peering by the gates is a bucket checklist attraction for a lot of. However, touring the within and having the White House museum expertise takes the cookie. We’d advocate this wholeheartedly to anybody with a die-hard curiosity in American historical past and politics.
15. Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum
Opening occasions: 10 am till 5:30 pm Cost: Free
Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is likely one of the most uncommon museums in Washington D.C. Believe it or not, the postal story in the United States is definitely fascinating. The course of started with the Pony Express, a brigade of horseback riders who ran America’s postal system for round 18 months. It is famed for being a monetary shambles, however the entire thing makes an amazing story. Then after that, the primary transcontinental telegraph system halted the service in 1861, and customary mail service started as we all know it.
The National Postal Museum is one other Smithsonian museum on your checklist – located in that acquainted bubble of Smithsonian Institution museums. The museum paperwork the whole lot from the creation of postal stationery to the early autos that used to ship mail. The museum tells a unbelievable story of each facet of American postal historical past and affords a fantastic assortment of memorabilia. There’s even a Twenties-style submit workplace the place you possibly can decide up free stamps to begin your stamp-collecting pastime.
The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is situated in the East End, comparatively centrally in Washington, DC. It is nicely mixed with a go to to the United States Capitol and DC Fire and EMS Museum (which is our ‘honorable mention’ since we couldn’t squeeze it onto this checklist).
16. National Archives Museum
Let’s end with a bang; National Archives Museum has among the most traditionally important artifacts in the United States. The esteemed museum’s assortment consists of the unique Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. If you might be visiting Washington DC, you might be undoubtedly accustomed to and even planning your journey round embracing American historical past, so don’t miss this pivotal spot. The National Archives Museum is the place to stand up shut and private with early American historical past.
Aside from the founding paperwork of the United States (how cool is that to say?), the National Archives Museum additionally has a sequence of smaller displays. These embody an space devoted to the Suffrage Movement and stuffed with civil rights letters and petitioning. The National Archives Museum is a superb place to get a bitesize however intense introduction to American History and Washington DC’s expertise.
Fun Museums in Washington DC
Which of those greatest museums in Washington, DC, do you suppose most closely fits you and your itinerary? Washington, DC, actually comes into its personal with artwork galleries and historical past museums, however the selection is countless. After all, who’d have thought you would go to the National Building Museum, Museum of the Bible, International Spy Museum, and the White House all in one metropolis?
Check out presidential portraits, European and American artwork, dinosaur fossils, and extra. Have an exquisite time museum buying in among the best locations for displays in the world.