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 the town its improbable museums. Washington, DC, has a number of the most visited museums in the US.
Together with your cultural cravings prepared and ready, choices just like the Spy Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Smithsonian’s Pure Historical past Museum assure you a improbable museum itinerary.
High Museums in Washington DC
This information has compiled all the very 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. Nationwide Museum of African American Historical past
The Nationwide Museum of African American Historical past is likely one of the most visited museums in Washington, DC. It’s the solely nationwide museum devoted to documenting the African American expertise in the US, 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 Establishment.
Lonnie has pioneered an absolute icon within the Washington museum scene. Guests can find out about 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 thru.
The Museum of African American Historical past is true in the course 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 price range, too – win-win.
2. Nationwide Constructing Museum
- Opening instances: 10 am till 4 pm Thursday till Monday
- Price: $10 per grownup
The Nationwide Constructing Museum would possibly sound like a randomly themed museum. Nonetheless, 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 Constructing Museum is beautiful. Guests wander by means 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 ‘near 90% of our lives inside’, presenting the concept we should always pay extra consideration to inside design and its affect on our well-being. Situated only a brief stroll from the nation’s capital, the museum is essentially the most enjoyable place to query and discover the human relationship with design.
3. Worldwide Spy Museum
- Opening instances: 9 am till 7 pm Monday to Thursday, 9 am till 8 pm Friday to Sunday
- Price: $26
Okay, it doesn’t get a lot cooler than an Worldwide Spy Museum. The spy museum is a fascinating haven for all issues spy-related, be its interactive displays, artifacts like outdated spy gadgets, and a few fascinating tales. Whereas it’s family-friendly, the Worldwide 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. Whilst you additionally get insights into previous spies, with American historical past, worldwide tales, and spy figures.
The Spy Museum is positioned close to the Smithsonian Establishment’s assortment of museums, together with the Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past and the Nationwide Air and Area Museum of the Smithsonian Establishment. It’s a improbable attraction to mix with certainly one of these museums, and additionally it is scenically positioned close by the Washington Channel – good for river views.
4. Smithsonian Nationwide Air and Area Museum
Smithsonian Nationwide Air and Area Museum is dreamy. All the 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 Nationwide Air and Area 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 suggestion and good attraction on your pockets. It’s also one of many iconic Smithsonian museums.
This museum is positioned throughout the neighborhood of most different Smithsonian museums. It’s accessible through public transport and simply slotted into your Washington, DC, itinerary. Preserve this as certainly one of your finest choices for anybody wanting an perception into area and flight historical past.
5. Nationwide Mall
- Opening instances: 24/7
- Price: Free
This free museum is likely one of the most unusual choices on this information. Moderately than being a standard constructing with drab banners and measly displays right here and there, the Nationwide Mall covers over 300 acres of monuments and American historical past. The completely different monuments and landmarks are related by a community of climbing trails. If you are able to do one factor in Washington DC, we propose you cease by Nationwide Mall to sightsee. The truth is, the Nationwide Mall has a number of the better of Washington DC’s monuments and landmarks.
The park has over 100 monuments and memorials. It’s a image of not solely the center of Washington, DC but in addition the US. You may go to the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King JR Memorial, and the dramatic waterfront Lincoln Memorial. It’s a whole dream to go to with a digicam.
And in the event you like historical past and aesthetic locations, you’ll be in for an actual deal with with this mixture. The Nationwide Mall additionally permits you to see lots in a short while, as it’s house to most of the main landmark sights in Washington, DC.
6. Nationwide Gallery of Artwork
Washington, DC, does artwork galleries, and it does them effectively. Should you fancy searching modern artwork displays, then the Nationwide Gallery of Artwork is your selection by default. The Nationwide Gallery of Artwork is house to trendy and modern artwork in numerous codecs – from a gorgeous sculpture backyard to elegant wood-paneled corridors of gold-framed portrait after portrait. If you’re an artwork fanatic, that is the type of place the place goals are made from. The Nationwide Gallery of Artwork is elegant to its core, with columns, atriums, domed ceilings, and elongated hall after hall. You could possibly simply spend hours right here. The entire place is a bit of artwork in itself.
Moderately than that eclectic trendy artwork museum inside, the Nationwide Gallery of Artwork is tremendous luxurious and extra of a timeless, basic museum. Preserve 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 US Holocaust Memorial Museum is a sobering place to go to. America Holocaust Museum opens 7 days every week and affords 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 people who skilled it.
The principle exhibition spreads over three flooring and incorporates eyewitness testimonies, historic artifacts, movie, and images. If you wish to know extra about Holocaust, plan to spend a few hours on 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 ‘Individuals and the Holocaust’ and another 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 referred to as ‘One Thousand and Seventy-eight Blue Skies’ – a photographic exhibition with particular person pictures of the skies above each focus camp in Europe.
America Holocaust Museum is a robust and vital museum to go to. It’s positioned only a brief stroll from the Washington Monument and ideally mixed with a go to to the Nationwide Mall.
8. Hirshhorn Museum
- Opening instances: 10 am till 5:30 pm
- Price: Free
Hirshhorn Museum is an absolute testomony to the fascinating phenomenon of contemporary artwork. The museum is about in a reasonably bizarre-looking doughnut-shaped constructing – a direct nod to its outlandish, quirky character if we ever did see one. Hirshhorn Museum has a relentless conveyor belt of nonstop exhibitions. In just some months in 2023, displays are devoted to modern Chinese language pictures and Baseera Khan. The identical goes for occasions, too, and you’ll all the time take a look at the rammed exercise schedule after the exercise. These non permanent occasions are nice for households wanting low-cost children’ leisure. Whereas completely, Hirshhorn Museum has over 12,000 items of art work to gawp at and analyze.
Hirshhorn Museum is about throughout the little bubble of Smithsonian Establishment museums. It’s straightforward to entry by public transport or on foot. As we talked about, it’s the perfect 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 number of the extra formal galleries in Washington DC, Hirshhorn Museum is your finest guess.
9. Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past
Whenever you consider pure historical past, what do you consider? In all probability David Attenborough and dinosaur fossils. Properly, any further, you possibly can add the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past to that checklist. Each metropolis wants a pure historical past museum, and the Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past is likely one of the finest museums in Washington, DC. It takes a selected caliber to be the capital’s pure historical past museum, so that you finest imagine that this museum is the highest.
Guests can glimpse a number of the world’s rarest gems and rise 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 Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past is likely one of the most complete examples of pure historical past preservation in the US. We advocate paying a go to.
10. Nationwide Museum of Asian Artwork
- Opening instances: 10 am till 5:30 pm
- Price: Free
This beautiful Asian artwork museum is well certainly one of Washington DC’s prime galleries, which, as you now know, is saying one thing. The museum is a improbable ode to Asian art work from quite a few completely different international locations. You’ll discover Center Jap, Korean, Indian, and Japanese artwork, to call just a few. There’s lovely 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 displays to absorb. The agency favourite room is the Peacock Room – so look ahead to that.
The Nationwide Museum supplies a extra various perception into historic artwork than many trendy artwork galleries in Washington, DC. If you’re an fanatic all in favour of Asian artwork or simply need to go to one of many specialist artwork museums, then the Nationwide Museum is a improbable choice. It’s in and amongst all of the Smithsonian museums, so that you’ll discover it straightforward to squeeze into your sightseeing.
11. Smithsonian American Artwork Museum
The Smithsonian American Artwork Museum is likely one of the prime museums in Washington, DC. So 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 Artwork Museum prides itself on being certainly one of its largest, most inclusive collections worldwide. The art work dates again to the colonial interval, however you’ll additionally see just a few items from as we speak. You may tour independently or profit 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’s price noting that the Smithsonian American Artwork Museum can also be located within the third-oldest federal constructing in Washington, DC. And as soon as you’re achieved, you possibly can simply mix it with a visit subsequent door to the Nationwide Portrait Gallery.
12. Museum of the Bible
The Museum of the Bible is likely one of the most spiritual Washington DC museums, if not essentially the most spiritual Washington DC museum. It has a whole assortment of extremely prized sacred relics and displays, together with historical scrolls and ‘uncommon 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’ve a great deal of sights to get by means of. It isn’t simply traditionally precious with its displays; there are immersive alternatives within the Museum of the Bible. You could possibly catch an Previous or New Testomony 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’s price checking in to see what talks and occasions can be found, because the museum attracts some actual business specialists.
13. Planet Phrase
- Opening instances: 10 am till 5 pm Wednesday to Friday, then 10 am till 6 pm Saturday to Monday, and closed Tuesday.
- Price: Recommended donation of $10-15
Planet Phrase 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 bask in visiting exhibit corridor after corridor of word-themed sights – from phrase bushes outdoor to elegant libraries inside.
There are interactive actions, like a recording studio and a room educating you the best way to create advert copy. Planet Phrase is unbelievable for anybody with kids or younger adults all in favour of a writing, journalistic, and musical profession. It’s 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 within the historic Franklin Faculty. The Franklin Faculty has Nationwide Historic Landmark standing as a result of it was the primary public training faculty in the US as an unbiased nation. So it’s becoming to see that its legacy has continued with Planet Phrase – a museum dedicated to studying and language.
14. White Home
- Opening instances: 7:30 am till 4 pm
- Price: Free
Do you know that the White Home is definitely a completely 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 the event you submit your tour requests with loads of warning- which is at least 21 days and as much as three months upfront – then you possibly can spend just a few hours treading the identical carpets because the Obamas and Trumps. You can even cease by the White Home Customer Heart, which has over 90 completely different White Home artifacts and a 14-minute movie. There are numerous interactive displays, archives, and even a museum store on the finish so that you can splurge in.
Visiting the White Home from the surface is thrilling sufficient. Simply peering by means of the gates is a bucket checklist attraction for a lot of. Nevertheless, touring the within and having the White Home 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 Nationwide Postal Museum
- Opening instances: 10 am till 5:30 pm
- Price: Free
Smithsonian’s Nationwide Postal Museum is likely one of the most uncommon museums in Washington D.C. Imagine it or not, the postal story in the US is definitely fascinating. The method started with the Pony Specific, a brigade of horseback riders who ran America’s postal system for round 18 months. It’s famed for being a monetary shambles, however the entire thing makes an incredible 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 Nationwide Postal Museum is one other Smithsonian museum on your checklist – located in that acquainted bubble of Smithsonian Establishment museums. The museum paperwork the whole lot from the creation of postal stationery to the early automobiles that used to ship mail. The museum tells a improbable story of each facet of American postal historical past and affords a superb assortment of memorabilia. There’s even a Nineteen Twenties-style put up workplace the place you possibly can decide up free stamps to begin your stamp-collecting passion.
The Smithsonian’s Nationwide Postal Museum is positioned within the East Finish, comparatively centrally in Washington, DC. It’s effectively mixed with a go to to the US Capitol and DC Hearth and EMS Museum (which is our ‘honorable point out’ since we couldn’t squeeze it onto this checklist).
16. Nationwide Archives Museum
Let’s end with a bang; Nationwide Archives Museum has a number of the most traditionally important artifacts in the US. The esteemed museum’s assortment contains the authentic Declaration of Independence, Structure, and Invoice of Rights. If you’re visiting Washington DC, you’re undoubtedly aware of and even planning your journey round embracing American historical past, so don’t miss this pivotal spot. The Nationwide Archives Museum is the place to rise up shut and private with early American historical past.
Other than the founding paperwork of the US (how cool is that to say?), the Nationwide Archives Museum additionally has a collection of smaller displays. These embrace an space devoted to the Suffrage Motion and stuffed with civil rights letters and petitioning. The Nationwide Archives Museum is a wonderful place to get a bitesize however intense introduction to American Historical past and Washington DC’s expertise.
Enjoyable Museums in Washington DC
Which of those finest museums in Washington, DC, do you assume most accurately fits you and your itinerary? Washington, DC, actually comes into its personal with artwork galleries and historical past museums, however the selection is limitless. In spite of everything, who’d have thought you could possibly go to the Nationwide Constructing Museum, Museum of the Bible, Worldwide Spy Museum, and the White Home multi function metropolis?
Take a look at presidential portraits, European and American artwork, dinosaur fossils, and extra. Have a beautiful time museum buying in among the best locations for displays on this planet.