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Washington DC Museums

Museum of African American History and Culture

Free

The National Museum of African American History and Culture chronicles America’s journey toward enshrining freedom, equality and democracy for all citizens. The museum houses a collection of more than 37,000 pieces related to a variety of areas, including slavery, segregation and civil rights as well as family, religion and the performing arts.

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Complete Guide To Museum of African Art

25 Stop 25 Free

One of the country’s first institutions dedicated solely to artistic expression on the African continent, the National Museum of African Art opened to the public in 1987. The attraction boasts a collection of more than 9,000 pieces in a variety of media spanning from ancient times through the modern era. In addition to textiles and jewelry, the museum has sculptures, pottery and paintings representing nearly every country in Africa, including Arab North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Although it is one of the Smithsonian’s smallest museums, the institution has the largest single collection of African art in the United States.

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American Art Museum

Free

Step inside Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and discover what amazing talent lives and has lived in our nation throughout history. The first federal art collection, more than 40,000 works of art represent over 7,000 American artists who hail from every region, cultural and ethnical background of the United States. Here, visitors can view paintings, prints, photography, sculpture and more from artists who lived and worked throughout the United States, throughout the centuries.

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National Portrait Gallery

Free

Meet America’s most remarkable citizens face­-to­-face at Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Stroll through the historic building, which was originally the U.S. Patent Office, and see paintings, photos, sculptures and more of famous Americans who have helped shape our nation. From the stunning exhibit of our Presidents, to photos of celebrities, scientists, entertainers, sports figures and more, the National Portrait Gallery offers a unique experience to guests of every age.

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National Museum of Women in the Arts

Founded by Wilhelmina Cole Holladay and Wallace F. Holladay in 1981, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is dedicated to displaying works of art by women from all over the world. Their expansive collection includes pieces by more than 800 artists. View striking artwork created throughout various centuries; learn about the many different women who have expressed themselves through a diverse array of mediums.

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Textile Museum

open Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun

One of Dupont Circle’s more visited attractions features a glorious collection of textile arts from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Known as one of the world’s leading specialized art museums, close to 35,000 visitors from around the world come each year to appreciate the history and beauty of the museum’s works. Guests also enjoy viewing the historic buildings in which the museum is housed and the picturesque garden behind the buildings.

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Corcoran Gallery

open Wednesday - Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm
Thursday: 10 am - 9 pm

The Corcoran Gallery was created to enhance and inspire American artists and their talents. Founded in 1869 by William Wilson Corcoran, the museum is known around the world for its collection of modern American art as well as European works including paintings, sculpture, photography and decorative arts. Today, visitors enjoy touring the vast fine art museum to view some of the world’s most magnificent masterpieces created by artists of the past and present.

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Holocaust Memorial Museum

open 10am-5:30pm Free

The museum serves as a memorial to the millions of people who were murdered during the Holocaust. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. everyday, except Yom Kippur and Christmas Day. Timed passes are distributed on a first–come first–served basis.

Hirshhorn Gallery & Sculpture Garden

open 10am-5:30pm Free

The founder of the Hirschhorn Gallery and Sculpture Garden, Joseph Hirschhorn left an impressive legacy of art and inspiration to the American People. He had an immense passion for art. So much so that at one time he had more than 6,000 pieces in his collection housed at several private locations. It was Hirschhorn’s adoration for the arts that inspired a new museum of art in Washington DC in the late 1960’s. The Hirschhorn Gallery and Sculpture Garden opened its doors in 1974, featuring Joseph Hirschhorn’s personal collection of paintings and sculpture, which he generously donated so that all of the American people could enjoy it as much as he did.

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Museum of the American Indian

open 10am-5:30pm Free

The Museum of the American Indian is the only museum solely dedicated to the history, study and preservation of the American Indians. You’ll be instantly captivated by its masterful architecture. The curved limestone building appears to be a natural rock formation facing towards the sun and is surrounded by acres of authentic crops of the American Indian. Its very design stands out among the many granite and marble neoclassical structures in the National Mall. Once inside, you’ll be treated to an up-close look at the life, languages, history, art and traditions of the Native Americans.

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Phillips Collection

open Tues- Sat: 10am-5pm
Sun: 12pm-7pm

A small but world-renown museum, the Phillips Collection, is America’s first museum of modern art. Opened in the home of Duncan Phillips in 1921, the museum offers visitors a stunning representation of the most famous works of art by internationally known artists. See paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas and Monet and gain an appreciation of modern artists by viewing the work of Braque, Picasso and Matisse. The museum, though not a part of the Smithsonian Institution, offers art enthusiasts a rare and intimate look at the many masterpieces that Duncan Phillips personally collected. It’s a wonderful museum for visitors of all ages.

Charles Sumner Museum and Archives

open Mon-Fri: 10am - 5pm Free

Charles Sumner fought for the abolition of slavery and for the rights of African Americans throughout his career as a United States Senator. Today, people from all over the world can gain an understanding of his efforts at the museum that bears his name. The Charles Sumner Museum and Archives is housed at the historic Charles Sumner School building that was constructed in 1872. It was here that the first high school class of African Americans graduated in 1877.

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National Geographic Museum

open Daily: 10am-6pm

Just like the highly acclaimed magazine, the National Geographic Museum offers a stunning representation of the world we live in within its collection of exhibits, both permanent and changing. Adults and children will be intrigued by the colorful, interactive and extraordinary displays. From sculptures created entirely out of garbage to live frogs of every color in their natural habitats, there’s always something fascinating happening at the National Geographic Museum.

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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

open 10am-5:30pm Free

One can only imagine the exhilaration that Neil Armstrong felt as he took the very first steps on the moon in 1969 or the incredible thrill that the Wright brothers experienced as they took that first flight in 1903. At the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, you can get an idea of how they felt when you see first-hand the original Wright 1903 Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module which carried astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin on their mission to the moon. These historic air and spacecrafts are among a collection of more than 30,000 artifacts at the Air and Space Museum.

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U.S. Botanic Garden

Free

No matter what time of year it is, the lush greenery and gorgeous plants are always thriving at the United States Botanic Garden. Located just next door to the Museum of the American Indian at the foot of the Capitol, the Botanic Garden is an oasis of beautiful plant life and flowers and home to 4,000 living species. The conservatory houses exhibits that focus on the importance of plants to people and on the ecology and evolution of plants.

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Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Free

Ever wonder if there’s any truth to the curse of the famous Hope Diamond? Or wish you could see for yourself the fossils of an ancient mammal or a dinosaur? Then step inside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Millions of people come each year to get a close look at some of the world’s most intriguing, beguiling specimens that the Museum has on display.

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National Museum of American History

Step inside the National Museum of American History and experience the passion, creativity and inspiration of the American people. Walk through the fascinating exhibits and collections and transport yourself through hundreds of years of history, culture and the lives of our people.  Over 3 million artifacts will amaze and enlighten you, including the original Star-Spangled Banner and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat.

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Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Free

Journey back to the days of the Pony Express and see first-hand how the mail was delivered in colonial America, through times of war and into the present day. At the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, visitors learn about the amazing history of the American postal service and how it evolved to become what it is today. Located on the lower level of the old Post Office Building just next door to Union Station, the building was constructed in 1914 and served as the Washington DC post office until 1986.

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National Archives

Free

Journey back in time as you view the original founding documents of the United States written by the patriots who created a nation conceived in liberty. Established in 1934, the National Archives is the repository for the priceless documents that have shaped American history and defined our democracy. These include the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which are collectively known as the Charters of Freedom. The Archives also contain other treasured heirlooms like an original copy of the Magna Carta from 1297, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty signed by Napoleon Bonaparte and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

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Dumbarton Oaks

Situated in Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks is a historic estate that was part of the 1702 Rock of Dumbarton land grant from Queen Anne. It was the Washington, D.C. residence of Senator and later Vice President John C. Calhoun from 1822 until 1829. Edward Linthicum named the greatly enlarged residence The Oaks in 1846. When the Bliss family acquired the property in 1920, it was called Dumbarton Oaks in honor of its two historic names. They also renovated the residence into the current Colonial Revival architectural style. In addition to the landscaped gardens, the museum features a collection of Byzantine and pre-Columbian art.

International Spy Museum

Is there really such a thing as invisible ink? Is someone watching you through a camera in their buttonhole? For answers to these questions and a million other secrets about the fascinating world of spying, stop by the International Spy Museum. Discover the truth and myths about microdots and invisible ink, buttonhole cameras and submarine recording systems. Examine bugs of all sizes and kinds, and ingenious disguise techniques developed by Hollywood for the CIA. Trace the history of 50 years of spy technology, developed by agencies from the OSS to the KGB.

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