Washington DC
Washington DC

Washington, DC Museums


In the bustling world of Washington DC, the only thing more hip than being a celebrity is being a history buff; DC may be the only place in the world where the high-school history nerds are now revered as the "cool kids." Whether youíre looking to appreciate the incredible remnants of American culture or looking to increase your knowledge of the history of the world, Washington DC has a museum that caters to any yen. From the world-famous Smithsonian to the smaller, less-known galleries chronicling the roots of art in African American culture, the ways to immerse yourself in historical beauty are limitless. Even if you lived your entire life in Washington DC, you might still be surprised by the amount of street corner nooks and crannies where knowledge and appreciation are served on a silver platter.
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Trusted Tours & Attractions:<br>WashingtonDC Museum, Tour and Attraction Tickets

Trusted Tours & Attractions:
WashingtonDC Museum, Tour and Attraction Tickets

DC's is yours to explore! Planning your next vacation to Washington DC? Find top DC museums, tours and attractions on Trusted Tours and Attractions. Trusted Tours and Attractions tickets and discount packages to over 20 DC museums, tours and attractions including Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Newseum of WashingtonDC, Monuments by Moonlight Night Tour, Old Town Trolley and much more.

Freer Gallery of Art

Jefferson Dr. (at 12th St.), SW Washington DC; Tel. 202.633.4880 Hours: Daily, 10am-5:30pm. Admission: Free.
The Freer Gallery of Art opened in 1923 as the first Smithsonian museum of art. Its eclectic collection began with a donation by Charles Lang Freer: over 9,000 works of American and Asian art. Chinese jades and bronzes, Persian metalwork, Buddhist sculptures and Japanese screens share the gallery's Italian Renaissance-style building with works by American artists, most of whom were influenced by Asian art, such as John Singer Sargent, Thomas Wilmer Dewing and James McNeill Whistler. Perhaps the most unusual work in the collection is an entire room known as "The Peacock Room," which was created by Whistler for the London dining room of a wealthy patron and later purchased by Freer and shipped to Washington.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Independence Ave. (at 7th St.), SW Washington DC; Tel. 202.357.2700. Hours: Daily, 10am-5:30pm. Admission: Free.
Washington, DC's Hirshhorn Museum is housed in a four-story cylindrical building as controversial in its design as the contemporary works of art contained inside. This Washington, DC museum is named after its original benefactor, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, who donated his extensive collection of contemporary art to the Smithsonian Institution, which has since added to the original bequest. The museum includes works by 19th and 20th century modern artists such as, Matisse, Rodin and Degas but the emphasis is on contemporary art created during the last 25 years. The galleries have the sparse feel of a minimalist airport lounge, an appropriate backdrop for paintings by Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon and Willem de Kooning mobiles by Alexander Calder and sculptures by Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti. Across the street from the Hirshhorn and about halfway down the National Mall is the sculpture garden, a perfect stopping point for those walking between the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. The sculptures range from traditional to abstract.

National Air and Space Museum

7th St. and Independence Ave., SW Washington DC.; Tel. 202.357.2700 Hours: Daily, 10am-5:30pm. Admission: Free.
Chronicling man's fascination with flight from his earliest attempts to become airborne to Apollo 11's voyage to the moon, the National Air and Space Museum is one of Washington, DC's most popular attractions. Fortunately, its hangar-like building can accommodate considerable numbers of visitors along with its hundreds of historic aircraft. The "Milestones of Flight" gallery near the Museum's main entrance includes the plane in which the Wright brothers made their first successful flight in 1903; the "Spirit of St. Louis," in which Charles Lindbergh made the first solo transatlantic flight in 1927; and the "Mercury" capsule in which John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. One of the most fascinating exhibits, "Apollo to the Moon," displays some of the equipment and technology used for the Apollo missions, including Neil Armstrong's and Buzz Aldrin's spacesuits, navigation aids and survival equipment.

National Gallery of Art

Constitution Ave. (between 3rd and 9th Streets), NW Washington DC; Tel. 202.737.4215 Hours: Mon ≠ Sat, 10am ≠ 5pm; Sun 11 am ≠ 6pm. Admission: Free
The National Gallery of Art outgrew its first building, known as the West Building in the 1970s and was joined by an underground concourse to the East Building, which is as daring in its architectural design as the original building is conservative. The West Building features European paintings and sculptures from the 13th to 19th centuries, including one of the best Impressionist collections outside of Paris with works by Manet, Renoir, Monet, and Cezanne. A highlight of the ground floor sculpture galleries, which recently underwent a four-year renovation, is a collection of Degas' wax statuettes of young ballet dancers. The imposing East Building accommodates the Gallery's 20th century art as well as a variety of temporary exhibitions. The central atrium is so voluminous that finding the galleries nestled into its far-flung corners can be a challenge.

National Museum of African Art

950 Independence Ave., SW Washington DC; Tel. 202.357.4600 Hours: Daily, 10am-5:30pm. Admission: Free.
A haven of quiet compared to the bustling National Museum of Natural History on the other side of the Mall, the National Museum of African Art is often overlooked, perhaps because it is mostly housed underground. About half the Museum's space is devoted to exhibits focusing on specific regions, but the 7,000-strong permanent collection includes objects from all over the continent. Objects often combine religious and cultural expression with a functional purpose and the collection includes everything from Nigerian carved-ivory cult figures to Zairean mother-and-child fertility fetishes. This Washington, DC museum's gift shop sells colorful textiles and African crafts as well as an extensive selection of books covering African art, culture and history.

National Museum of American History

14th St. and Constitution Ave. NW Washington D.C.; Tel. 202.357-2700 Hours: Daily, 10am-5:30pm. Admission: Free
The mission of the National Museum of American History is to display objects that reflect the experiences of the American people. The result is a chaotic collection of Americana set among exhibits with the worthy aim of recounting America's colorful past through the eyes of its diverse citizens. Objects range from the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, to Mohammad Ali's boxing gloves, to George Washington's wooden teeth. The first floor of the Museum covers the history of science and technology. The second is devoted to social and cultural history and includes the original flag that inspired the national anthem and an exhibit that examines the evolving role of First Ladies. The top floor houses political memorabilia as well as an exhibit that displays some of the 25,000 tokens of remembrance left by visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and another that deals with the experiences of Japanese-Americans held in detention camps during World War II.

National Museum of Crime & Punishment

575 7th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004; Tel. 202.393.1099
At Washington DCís National Museum of Crime & Punishment, mankindís conflict between good and evil is dissected for all to see. Learn both the past and modern methods of law enforcement agencies, and delve into the evolution of crime and the criminal mastermind from the times of medieval knights, piracy, gunslingers and even modern day hackers. In addition to three floors of fascinating and educational displays, intense, highly interactive exhibits allow visitors of all ages to enjoy truly unique simulations. This Washington DC museum includes a crime scene lab and the filming studios for Americaís Most Wanted.

National Museum of Natural History

10th St. and Constitution Ave., NW Washington DC; Tel. 202.357.2700 Hours: Daily, 10am-5:30pm (Extended Summer Hours: 10am-7:30pm). Admission: Free.
The first stop for Washington, DC museum-goers with children in tow is usually the "Dinosaurs" exhibit on the ground floor of the National Museum of Natural History. Barring flights of family-phobia brought on by squealing children and their frazzled parents, the looming, reassembled skeletons and reproductions of dinosaurs are as fascinating to adults as they are to kids. The Mammal Hall, which was becoming outdated, has been renovated and is set to reopen in the fall of 2003. In the meantime, the creepy-crawlies filling the Insect Zoo on the second floor will probably be enough to keep the kids entertained, along with the 3D bugs and dinosaurs on view at the IMAX theater. The biggest draw for adult visitors to this Washington, DC museum is probably the 45-carat Hope Diamond, which once belonged to Marie Antoinette and can now be found in the Gem and Mineral Hall along with other legendary jewels.

The Mall and Washington DC Museums

Bordered on either side by nine of Washington DC's 14 Smithsonian museums, The Mall, a green, tree-lined expanse that stretches from the Capitol's eastern end to the Washington Monument's western end, could very well be the hub of the nation's cultural life. As all of these Washington museums are free and close to one another, it's tempting to try to see them all in one day. But even with an endless supply of energy and comfortable walking shoes, exploring all that the Mall has to offer could take closer to a week. If you only have a day or two to spare, it's advisable to begin at the Smithsonian Information Center, the red, castle-like building about halfway down the Mall, and to plot a course of action from there. Parking is limited but you can save your feet for the museums by taking the Metrobus or Metrorail to various points along the Mall.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

100 Raoul Wallenburg Place, SW Washington DC; Tel. 202.488.0400. Hours: Daily, 10am-5:30pm (open until 7:50pm Tuesday only, April 1-September 9). Admission: Free (Timed Passes required for visiting the Permanent Exhibit can be obtained on the day of your visit from the Museum).
Not for the faint of heart, a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is just as emotional as it is educational. Most first-time visitors begin with the Permanent Exhibit, which takes them on a self-guided tour through the history of the Holocaust, from Hitler's rise to power and his systematic persecution of Jews, homosexuals and the disabled, to the "Final Solution" realized by the Nazi concentration camps. The exhibit features historic film footage, audio-taped testimonials from concentration camp survivors and many original artifacts including piles of belongings and clothing confiscated from prisoners as they arrived at the camps. The exhibit ends at the Hall of Remembrance, where an eternal flame burns as a memorial to Holocaust victims. "Remember the Children: Daniel's Story" is an exhibit aimed at children between the ages of 8 and 12 and tells the story of the Holocaust from the point of view of a young Jewish boy.
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