Washington, DC, is the nation’s capital and absolutely the pinnacle of American historical past. If it has occurred, you may wager that there’s an ode to it in Washington, DC, and this fixation and centrality inside American historical past is what provides the town its incredible museums. Washington, DC, has a few of 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 incredible museum itinerary.
Top Museums in Washington DC
This information has compiled all the perfect of Washington DC’s museums into one extra-convenient listing. Get a style of Washington’s infamous museum scene with these high 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 reveals 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 find out about all the things from the civil rights motion to the proficient artists all through the ages on the museum’s separate African artwork museum. There are even momentary reveals 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 right 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 mild on the finances, too – win-win.
2. National Building Museum
Opening instances: 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 way of 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 must always pay extra consideration to inside design and its influence 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 instances: 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 reveals, artifacts like outdated spy gadgets, and a few fascinating tales. While it’s family-friendly, the International Spy Museum caters to folks throughout the board.
And regardless of its barely steeper entrance costs, it stays probably the greatest 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 incredible attraction to mix with considered one of these museums, and it’s also scenically situated close by the Washington Channel – excellent for river views.
4. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is dreamy. The complete venue is flight-themed, and also you stroll beneath suspended planes and early flight contraptions. The completely different reveals 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 no less than a couple of hours. The museum paperwork all the things 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 high museums in Washington, DC – a private advice and good attraction in your pockets. It can also 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 considered one of your greatest choices for anybody wanting an perception into area and flight historical past.
5. National Mall
Opening instances: 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 reveals 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 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 a few of the better of Washington DC’s monuments and landmarks.
The park has over 100 monuments and memorials. It is an emblem of not solely the guts 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 should you like historical past and aesthetic locations, you’ll be in for an actual deal with with this mixture. The National Mall additionally helps you to see lots in a short while, as it’s house to lots of the main landmark sights in Washington, DC.
6. National Gallery of Art
Washington, DC, does artwork galleries, and it does them effectively. If you fancy looking up to date artwork reveals, then the National Gallery of Art is your selection by default. The National Gallery of Art is house to trendy and up to date artwork in numerous codecs – from a gorgeous sculpture backyard to elegant wood-paneled corridors of gold-framed portrait after portrait. If you might be an artwork fanatic, that is the type 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 trendy artwork museum inside, the National Gallery of Art is tremendous luxurious and extra of a timeless, basic 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 presents free timed entry slots staggered from 10 am till 5:30 pm. The museum is a not-for-profit and dwelling memorial to the occasions of the Holocaust and those that skilled it.
The important 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 all the things from the rise of the Nazi celebration 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 youngsters of the Holocaust and one known as ‘One Thousand and Seventy-eight Blue Skies’ – a photographic exhibition with particular person pictures of the skies above each focus camp in Europe.
The United States Holocaust Museum is a strong and vital 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 instances: 10 am till 5:30 pm Cost: Free
Hirshhorn Museum is an absolute testomony to the fascinating phenomenon of recent artwork. The museum is ready in a moderately bizarre-looking doughnut-shaped constructing – a direct nod to its outlandish, quirky persona if we ever did see one. Hirshhorn Museum has a continuing conveyor belt of nonstop exhibitions. In just some months in 2023, reveals are devoted to up to date Chinese images and Baseera Khan. The similar goes for occasions, too, and you’ll at all times try the rammed exercise schedule after the exercise. These momentary 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 ready 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 ideally suited 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 a few of the extra formal galleries in Washington DC, Hirshhorn Museum is your greatest wager.
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 more, you may add the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to that listing. 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 a few of the world’s rarest gems and rise up near not one however dozens of dinosaur skeletons and fossils. And apart from 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 suggest paying a go to.
10. National Museum of Asian Art
Opening instances: 10 am till 5:30 pm Cost: Free
This beautiful Asian artwork museum is well considered one of Washington DC’s high galleries, which, as you now know, is saying one thing. The museum is a incredible ode to Asian paintings from quite a few completely different international locations. You’ll discover Middle Eastern, Korean, Indian, and Japanese artwork, to call a couple of. There is gorgeous Arabic calligraphy to admire, Indian sculptures and pottery work, and chic Japanese silk works. There are over 46,000 works to admire and flooring and flooring of reveals to take in. The agency favourite room is the Peacock Room – so look ahead to that.
The National Museum supplies a extra numerous perception into historic artwork than many trendy 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 incredible choice. 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 high 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 in depth assortment of 1 kind of artwork in a single place is helpful.
And the Smithsonian American Art Museum prides itself on being considered one of its largest, most inclusive collections worldwide. The paintings dates again to the colonial interval, however you’ll additionally see a couple of items from at present. You can tour independently or benefit from a complimentary strolling tour that’s run every day.
Kogod Courtyard is an architectural function of the museum itself that guests love – a considerable glass-enclosed courtyard with tropical crops and tons of pure lighting. It is value noting that the Smithsonian American Art Museum can also be located in the third-oldest federal constructing in Washington, DC. And as soon as you might be finished, you may 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 reveals, together with historical scrolls and ‘rare Bibles’. The constructing is fantastically designed with stained glass home windows and church-like decor all through, and since it’s break up throughout six flooring, you’ve a great deal of sights to get by way of. It isn’t simply traditionally priceless with its reveals; 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 large quantities of analysis. Its museum shows cowl over 4,000 years of historical past, and due to this, it’s a actually lively 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 instances: 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 all the things from karaoke to Scrabble. As guests, you indulge in visiting exhibit corridor after corridor of word-themed sights – from phrase timber outdoor to elegant libraries inside.
There are interactive actions, like a recording studio and a room educating you easy methods 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 schooling 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 instances: 7:30 am till 4 pm Cost: Free
Did you already know that the White House is definitely a completely functioning museum? With capped numbers and restricted hours, in fact. This iconic museum boasts a few of American historical past’s most well-known scenes. And should 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 may spend a couple of hours treading the identical carpets because the Obamas and Trumps. You can even 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 reveals, archives, and even a museum store on the finish so that you can splurge in.
Visiting the White House from the skin is thrilling sufficient. Just peering by way of the gates is a bucket listing attraction for a lot of. However, touring the within and having the White House museum expertise takes the cookie. We’d suggest this wholeheartedly to anybody with a die-hard curiosity in American historical past and politics.
15. Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum
Opening instances: 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 a fantastic story. Then after that, the primary transcontinental telegraph system halted the service in 1861, and normal mail service started as we all know it.
The National Postal Museum is one other Smithsonian museum in your listing – located in that acquainted bubble of Smithsonian Institution museums. The museum paperwork all the things from the creation of postal stationery to the early automobiles that used to ship mail. The museum tells a incredible story of each side of American postal historical past and presents a wonderful assortment of memorabilia. There’s even a Nineteen Twenties-style submit workplace the place you may decide up free stamps to begin your stamp-collecting interest.
The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is situated in the East End, comparatively centrally in Washington, DC. It is effectively 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 listing).
16. National Archives Museum
Let’s end with a bang; National Archives Museum has a few of the most traditionally important artifacts in the United States. The esteemed museum’s assortment contains the unique Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. If you might be visiting Washington DC, you might be undoubtedly conversant in 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 rise 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 collection of smaller reveals. These embrace 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 limitless. After all, who’d have thought you may 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 purchasing in probably the greatest locations for reveals in the world.