19 Fascinating Museums in Washington D.C. to Go to in 2023!

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Washington D.C. is a type of fascinating cities the place you’ll be able to spend a complete week there and solely scratch the floor.

The U.S. Capital is mostly related to The White Home, the house to the U.S. President, and American Politics.

However what many individuals don’t know is that there are a lot of fascinating museums in Washington D.C, making it the proper vacation spot to go to for historical past buffs and people concerned with increasing their minds.

US CApitol Dome and stairs leading to portico on the wing
US Capitol Constructing

There are over 40 Washington D.C. museums, and plenty of are free to enter (most of them, truly), so deciding which museum so as to add to your Washington itinerary isn’t any straightforward job.

That can assist you out, we’ve listed our favorite museums in Washington D.C. so you’ll be able to decide which of them so as to add to your go to.

The Greatest Museums in Washington D.C.

In no specific order, listed below are 19 of the most effective Washington D.C. museums…

1. Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past

Interior of National Museum of National History with statue of elephant
Inside of Nationwide Museum of Nationwide Historical past

We start our record with one of the vital standard museums in Washington D.C. The Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past is considered one of many Smithsonian museums within the metropolis and, like all of them, is free to enter.

This museum is likely one of the finest locations to go to in Washington D.C. to dive into the world’s pure wonders. From anthropology and biology to zoology, you’ll discover quite a few instructional displays that inform the extraordinary story of Planet Earth, and the adjustments which have occurred over time.

Study in regards to the completely different species of animals, vegetation, and microbes, in addition to how the human race has advanced. 

It’s the most effective museums in Washington D.C for youths, as they will study in regards to the world they dwell in by way of interactive and thrilling displays. They’ll find out about extinct creatures just like the woolly mammoth, see uncommon gems from all elements of the world, and seashells from faraway locations. 

There are additionally archaeological artifacts that reveal how people used completely different supplies for instruments centuries in the past. 

When you have a curious thoughts and like to find out about nature, visiting the Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past is bound to be a memorable expertise!

Pondering of visiting The Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past with the household? Then chances are you’ll like this family tour of the museum which is specifically designed for these travelling with youngsters.

2. Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of American Historical past

Outside of building on a sunny day
Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of American Historical past

In case you’re on the lookout for museums in Washington D.C. to study in regards to the nation’s historical past, tradition, and economic system, then it’s important to think about the Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of American Historical past. 

There’s really one thing for everybody right here – whether or not you’re a historical past buff, a science fanatic, or a fan of museums generally. 

With over 1.7 million artifacts, this museum gives a complete look into America’s previous. It’s additionally dwelling to a number of iconic objects, resembling George Washington’s uniform, the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy within the Wizard of Oz, and Abraham Lincoln’s prime hat.

Past its bodily choices, the museum additionally often hosts interactive displays and academic occasions for all ages.

From dwell performances to rotating exhibitions, there’s all the time one thing new to discover at this ever-changing establishment. 

3. Nationwide Museum of African American Historical past and Tradition

brown building of the national museum of african american history framed by tree
Museum of African American Historical past

The Nationwide Museum of African American Historical past and Tradition is a Smithsonian museum that opened to the general public on September 24, 2016, and is devoted to the historical past, tradition, and artwork of African Individuals. 

The museum is the one museum devoted to the documentation and recognition of African American historical past and tradition. 

The museum’s collections embrace objects from each period of African American historical past, from slavery to the current day. 

The museum is a robust reminder of the contributions that African Individuals have made to our nation, and it’s a vital a part of understanding America’s historical past.

4. Nationwide Archives Museum

 National Archives Research Center in Washington DC in a sunny day, USA

From the second you step contained in the Nationwide Archives Museum, you are feeling enveloped in historical past. With its towering rows of preserved paperwork and artifacts, it gives an intimate look into america’ previous that you just gained’t discover wherever else. 

Whether or not you’re on the lookout for assist with some analysis or just on the lookout for a thought-provoking afternoon, the Nationwide Archives Museum has one thing to supply everybody. 

Right here you’ll be able to see the long-lasting Declaration of Independence and Structure, in addition to see historic pictures and maps, in addition to letters, diaries, studies, and notes.

The museum additionally hosts panels and lectures that make clear essential matters like civil rights, justice reform, and social progress. 

With its numerous show of things, the Nationwide Archives Museum makes American historical past extra accessible. 

Keep away from ready in line and study in regards to the historical past of the Nationwide Archives Museum on this guided tour!

5. Nationwide Gallery of Artwork

Art scuplutre in a park
Sculpture Backyard

There’s rather a lot to see on the National Gallery of Art. The gallery has a large assortment of work, sculptures, and different artworks from everywhere in the world that date again lots of of years. 

You’ll be able to see greater than 130,000 items within the museum, from sculptures, prints, drawings, pictures, and work. 

You might spend hours strolling round and nonetheless not see every thing. One of many highlights of the museum is its assortment of world-renown European work from the Renaissance interval, resembling unique items by Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgione, and Raphael.

Another standard items within the museum are Claude Monet’s Japanese Bridge portray and unique sculptures by baroque architect and sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Whereas right here, don’t miss the 6.1-acre Sculpture Backyard. It’s an exquisite oasis in the course of a tiring Museum Day, with pretty sculptures to admire. We skipped the artwork gallery and simply did this.

6. Smithsonian American Artwork Museum

stairs leading up to the columned national fg

The Smithsonian American Artwork Museum is likely one of the most prestigious artwork museums in america. 

It’s dwelling to a group of over 40,000 items of artwork, spanning a variety of kinds and intervals. 

The museum’s everlasting assortment contains works by world-famous artists resembling John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, and Georgia O’Keeffe. 

It additionally hosts a wide range of non permanent exhibitions, which showcase each new and outdated artistic endeavors.

Whether or not you’re an artwork lover or just on the lookout for one thing to do on a wet day, the Smithsonian American Artwork Museum is certainly price a go to.

7. Nationwide Portrait Gallery

People near the portrait of the 44th president of the United States Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley in National Portrait Gallery in DC.
Love this portrait

The Nationwide Portrait Gallery is dwelling to all kinds of portraiture, spanning centuries of American historical past. 

Guests can view work, sculptures, and images of previous presidents, first women, civil rights leaders, and extra. 

The gallery additionally options rotating exhibitions by up to date artists. 

Whether or not you’re concerned with American historical past or artwork, the Nationwide Portrait Gallery is bound to have one thing to seize your curiosity.

8. Worldwide Spy Museum

People exploring a spy museum in DC
My spy disguise

The Worldwide Spy Museum is a must-see for any fan of espionage. The museum has the most important assortment of spy gear, devices, and weapons on show, in addition to a wealth of data on well-known spies and their missions. 

Guests may also study in regards to the science of spying, together with easy methods to decipher codes and easy methods to make their very own disguise equipment by way of a range of interactive exhibits

It’s the most effective issues to do in Washington D.C. with children, as they will study in an immersive and enjoyable approach.

Whether or not you’re seeking to channel your interior James Bond or just intrigued by the world of espionage, the Worldwide Spy Museum is an fulfilling expertise.

Watch our Reel under of the Worldwide Spy Musem

9. Nationwide Museum of Girls within the Arts

The Nationwide Museum of Girls within the Arts is a good place to see a variety of artwork by feminine artists. 

The museum has a big assortment of work, sculptures, pictures, and extra that enables guests to study extra in regards to the historical past of ladies within the arts and the way they advocate for one another.

The museum additionally gives a wide range of instructional applications, that are nice for each adults and children. 

In case you’re on the lookout for a spot to understand and find out about artwork created by ladies, the Nationwide Museum of Girls within the Arts must be prime of your record.

Speaking about ladies in Artwork, you would possibly need to try the Guerilla Ladies exhibition within the Hirshhorn Museum, talked about under.  Put it This Means speaksout for equality and inclusion for feminine artists.

Art museum
Fascinating stat that shouldn’t be!

10. Dumbarton Oaks Museum

Situated in a historic Tudor Revival mansion, the Dumbarton Oaks Museum homes a formidable assortment of artwork and artifacts from world wide.

Guests may also view a collection of historical Egyptian statues, stroll by way of a gallery devoted to Byzantine artwork (for which the museum is most well-known), and see a group of artworks from the pre-Columbian Americas. 

As well as, the museum homes a library and analysis heart, which is open to the general public. It additionally has a gorgeous backyard with fountains and sculptures.

The Dumbarton Oaks Museum is a good place to find out about artwork and tradition from world wide, or simply be a spot to supply a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the town.

11. President Lincoln’s Cottage

Mom and daughters looking up at monument of Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln Memorial

In case you’re concerned with studying extra in regards to the previous presidents of america, make sure to try President Lincoln’s Cottage.

This museum was the previous dwelling of President Lincoln and was inbuilt 1851. It was initially meant as a summer season retreat for President Lincoln however is now a museum devoted to his life and achievements.

Guests can tour the cottage and see interval furnishings and unique paintings. There are additionally a variety of pictures and paperwork on show detailing the president’s life. 

You’ll want to stroll across the grounds, which embrace a backyard and a cemetery. The cottage is open to the general public every day by guided tour solely. You’ll be able to reserve your tour online here.

people listening to a tour inside ford's theater

We additionally suggest visiting the Ford Theater whereas in DC. It’s solely $5 and also you get an fascinating look into Lincoln’s life, his household, his years of Presidency, and the occasions main as much as his assassination and after.

We beloved going contained in the Theater to see the place that occurred. Watch out when reserving your tour as not all grant entry to contained in the theater. Learn extra right here.

12. Nationwide Geographic Museum

In case you’re on the lookout for a museum for kids, then you definately’ll need to take them to the Nationwide Geographic Museum.

This museum is a good place to study in regards to the world round us, that includes the long-lasting Nat Geo images and inspirational tales. 

There are displays on every thing from animals to historical cultures, or you’ll be able to merely seize a selfie with the museum’s well-known big globe, which stands within the heart of the museum. 

The globe is interactive and is designed to assist guests find out about completely different nations and areas.

The museum additionally has a dome theatre and planetarium the place guests can study in regards to the evening sky. 

For these concerned with historical past, geography, or science, you’ll love the Nationwide Geographic Museum.

13. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

people looking at exhibits inside United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum serves as a reminder of the devastating penalties of unchecked prejudice and violence. 

It’s onerous to think about what life was like for thus many individuals earlier than and through the holocaust and visiting this museum helps to grasp the magnitude of the tragedy that occurred. 

Upon getting into the constructing, you might be greeted with some emotionally triggering artifacts that illustrate the tales of these affected by discrimination and violence. 

There are quite a few interactive displays that purpose to create a greater understanding of what occurred throughout this era in historical past. 

It’s also possible to see quite a few testimonies from survivors who share their tales, which might be fairly highly effective to witness firsthand. 

You might depart feeling saddened in regards to the occasions of the previous, however it’s an vital museum that reminds us all why such tragedies must not ever be repeated.

14. Nationwide Museum of the American Indian

Display inside a museum

America’s historical past goes again lengthy earlier than the nation was based by the British greater than 500 years in the past. 

If you wish to study in regards to the Native Individuals who lived right here lengthy earlier than, then it is best to think about visiting the Nationwide Museum of the American Indian.

The museum was inbuilt 2004 and homes a group of over 825,000 objects, paperwork, and images, making it one of many largest collections of Native American artifacts on the planet. 

The displays inform the story of the Native Individuals, from their first contact with European explorers to the current day. 

There are additionally rotating exhibitions that includes up to date artwork and associated matters. 

The museum is free to go to and is likely one of the finest locations to study extra about Native American tradition.

15. Hirshhorn Museum

Art sculpture
Sculpture Backyard

The Hirshhorn Museum is the primary Washington D.C. museum to go to for followers of up to date artwork.

The museum was inbuilt 1960 as a spot to retailer Joseph H. Hirshhorn’s in depth assortment of sculptures and fashionable artwork, and now options works by well-known artists resembling Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Jackson Pollock. 

It additionally hosts a wide range of particular exhibitions that introduce each rising and established artists from across the globe. 

With its dedication to presenting transformative artwork, the Hirshhorn Museum is a must-see for anybody within the newest developments in up to date artwork.

We’re actually glad we determined to take a fast look inside on our Washington DC Vacation Journey. We beloved the fashionable artwork shows inside and the sculpture backyard was cool. Don’t miss Yoko Ono’s Wishing Tree.

16. Smithsonian Nationwide Air and House Museum

people looking at exhibits and model plane in the air at National Air and Space Museum
Nationwide Air and House Museum in Washington

The Smithsonian Nationwide Air and House Museum is a really awe-inspiring place. As quickly as you stroll in, it’s straightforward to see why it’s one of the vital standard museums in Washington D.C. 

In every single place you look, there’s something fascinating to witness; from the precise Wright brothers’ 1903 Flyer or the unique Spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong, anybody concerned with air and area journey will love this museum.

One of many highlights of this museum is the Apollo Lunar Module 2. With the ability to witness the know-how that went to area actually highlights how far we’ve come because the human race. It makes you are feeling humble and appreciative of life on Earth.

Ensure to take a look at the particular displays that discover a number of matters in larger element. And naturally, make sure that to wander by way of the galleries displaying a few of historical past’s most iconic aircrafts, spacecrafts, and innovations.

17. United States Capitol

US Capitol Building WAshington DC freamed by fall trees

The U.S. Capitol constructing is likely one of the most iconic buildings in D.C. that sits on prime of Capitol Hill on The Nationwide Mall. It’s famed for Renaissance-inspired structure and a big domed roof.

The USA Capitol Constructing is the assembly place of the American legislature and congress and is the place the Senate and the Home of Representatives come collectively to debate and deliberate political points. 

Guests can go to the constructing totally free, however they have to reserve a spot on a tour. Guests may also try the Exhibition Corridor which is a part of the Guests Heart. This can be a museum showcasing interactive displays about Congress and the U.S. Capitol.

Right here you’ll be able to study in regards to the growth of the 12 main items of laws, have a go at passing laws, view the desk from President Lincoln’s second inauguration, and take a digital tour of the constructing.

You must book in advance because it’s extremely standard. It’s really useful you e-book as far upfront as doable as there are solely 50 slots per day.

18. Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of African Artwork

two blue domed on the roof of the national museum of african art with a pretty garden out front
Nationwide Museum of African artwork

The Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of African Artwork is a wide ranging place that has over time turn into greater than only a area for artwork. 

It was established in 1979 and homes greater than 9,000 works of conventional and fashionable African artwork, greater than 300,000 pictures, and 50,000 books. It was the primary establishment to ever be devoted to African artwork and has the most important assortment in america.

Once you stroll by way of its doorways, you might be instantly transported to a unique time and place. The work, sculptures, and artifacts on show provide a glimpse into the tradition and historical past of the African American individuals. 

The museum can also be a testomony to the ability of artwork to encourage and educate.

Find out about African Artwork on a small group walking tour of Washington D.C. that additionally takes you to a number of the metropolis’s prime landmarks.

19. Nationwide Museum of Asian Artwork

exterior of the freer gallery of asian art with circle of flowers in front
Freer Gallery of Artwork

The Nationwide Museum of Asian Artwork was based in 1982 and homes a group of greater than 45,000 items of Asian artwork, which incorporates work, sculptures, ceramics, and extra. 

The museum additionally has a backyard with a pond that’s dwelling to koi fish. The Nationwide Museum of Asian Artwork represents the cultures of nations resembling China, Japan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia. 

It’s a place the place individuals can study in regards to the historical past and artwork of Asia. The museum additionally hosts occasions and applications that promote understanding and appreciation of Asian cultures.

FAQs About Museums in Washington D.C.

the exterior and gardens of the smithsonian castle
The Smithsonian Citadel

Here’s what individuals often ask us about museums in Washington D.C.

Does Washington D.C. have free museums?

Sure, Washington D.C. has many free museums. The entire museums belonging to The Smithsonian Institute are free to enter, as is america Holocaust Memorial Museum, Nationwide Archives Museum, Hirshhorn Museum, and Sculpture Backyard to call a number of.

What’s the most visited museum in Washington D.C.?

The Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past was probably the most visited museum in Washington D.C. in 2021 with round 983,000 visits. 

The place are the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C.?

The Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C. are principally positioned on the Nationwide Mall, alongside Impartial Avenue. The Smithsonian American Artwork Museum is positioned within the Penn Quarter and the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Postal Museum is within the East Finish. All of them are inside strolling distance of one another.

The place to Keep in Washington DC

girl sitting on bed in hotel room

When selecting lodging for Washington DC, it’s finest to search for a lodge inside strolling distance to the Nationwide Mall. Particularly, in case your keep is brief and it’s most targeted on the favored DC sights on this space. If touring somewhat additional out, you’ll additionally need lodging near a Metro station. Parking is at a premium in DC, so we don’t suggest driving round.

Listed below are some lodge suggestions from us:

  • We stayed at The Madison Hotel on 15th avenue solely a few blocks away from the White Home. We might stroll in every single place – Georgetown was even a 3-minute stroll from our lodge. The room was comfy however most vital of all, was the handy location. Book your stay here.
  •  The Duo Nomad Hostel is a good funds lodging possibility for these wanting to remain within the metropolis.
  • Beforehand, we’ve stayed at The Hilton Garden Inn within the Georgetown space / west finish of downtown once we visited the White Home, which met all our wants as a vacationer AND enterprise traveler.
  • I additionally love the look of the Kimpton Banneker – it’s our favourite lodge model and inside strolling distance to the Nationwide Mall. You’ll have amenity charges at this lodge, nevertheless, so might want to issue that into your funds.
  • Click here if looking for vacation rentals.

Earlier than You Go

Mom and two daughters riding bikes in Washington DC

So there you’ve it, these are the most effective museums in Washington D.C, and as you’ll be able to see, there may be a lot to see and study on this fascinating metropolis.

Earlier than you go, we extremely suggest you rent a motorcycle to get from A to B. Lots of the museums are positioned on the Nationwide Mall, however it’s huge, so save your self a while (and vitality) strolling and biking from place to put.

We extremely suggest renting bikes from Unlimited Biking.

You can see our Reel here.

We had a blast biking from monument to monument on the Nationwide Mall. It saved us a lot of time and made it extra manageable to do with children vulnerable to complaining.

We created a 3-day itinerary information to Washington DC and a information on the Nationwide Mall (the place many of the museums and memorials are) that can assist you plan your journeys and slot in all these unimaginable DC Museums. You may additionally like our information on free or low cost issues to do in DC and easy methods to spend 48 hours in DC.

And above all, have the most effective journey to Washington D.C!

Are there any museums in Washington D.C. that you just get pleasure from visiting? Tell us within the feedback.

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