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

This put up might include affiliate hyperlinks. We might obtain a small fee, without charge to you, should you make a purchase order. Learn Disclosure.

Washington D.C. is a type of fascinating cities the place you possibly can 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 various fascinating museums in Washington D.C, making it the right vacation spot to go to for historical past buffs and people excited by 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 lots of are free to enter (most of them, really), so deciding which museum so as to add to your Washington itinerary is not any simple job.

That can assist you out, we’ve listed our favorite museums in Washington D.C. so you possibly can 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 listing with some of the in style museums in Washington D.C. The Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past is certainly one of many Smithsonian museums within the metropolis and, like all of them, is free to enter.

This museum is without doubt one of the greatest 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 reveals that inform the extraordinary story of Planet Earth, and the adjustments which have occurred over time.

Study concerning the completely different species of animals, crops, and microbes, in addition to how the human race has developed. 

It’s among the finest museums in Washington D.C for teenagers, as they will study concerning the world they reside in by interactive and thrilling reveals. They’ll study 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 show how people used completely different supplies for instruments centuries in the past. 

You probably have a curious thoughts and like to study 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 you could 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

When you’re in search of museums in Washington D.C. to study concerning the nation’s historical past, tradition, and financial system, then it’s important to take into account 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 on the whole. 

With over 1.7 million artifacts, this museum affords a complete look into America’s previous. It’s additionally residence to a number of iconic gadgets, equivalent to 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 reveals and academic occasions for all ages.

From reside 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 People. 

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

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

The museum is a strong reminder of the contributions that African People have made to our nation, and it’s an important 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 affords an intimate look into the USA’ previous that you simply gained’t discover wherever else. 

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

Right here you possibly can see the enduring 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 subjects 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 concerning 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 so much to see on the National Gallery of Art. The gallery has a large assortment of work, sculptures, and different artworks from all around the world that date again lots of of years. 

You possibly can see greater than 130,000 items within the museum, from sculptures, prints, drawings, pictures, and work. 

You could possibly spend hours strolling round and nonetheless not see the whole lot. One of many highlights of the museum is its assortment of world-renown European work from the Renaissance interval, equivalent to authentic items by Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgione, and Raphael.

Another in style items within the museum are Claude Monet’s Japanese Bridge portray and authentic 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 beautiful 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 without doubt one of the most prestigious artwork museums in the USA. 

It’s residence to a set of over 40,000 items of artwork, spanning a variety of types and durations. 

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

It additionally hosts quite a lot of momentary exhibitions, which showcase each new and previous artworks.

Whether or not you’re an artwork lover or just in search of one thing to do on a wet day, the Smithsonian American Artwork Museum is unquestionably 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 residence to all kinds of portraiture, spanning centuries of American historical past. 

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

The gallery additionally options rotating exhibitions by modern artists. 

Whether or not you’re excited by 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 concerning the science of spying, together with the best way to decipher codes and the best way to make their very own disguise equipment by a range of interactive exhibits

It’s among the finest issues to do in Washington D.C. with children, as they will study in an immersive and enjoyable method.

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 satisfying expertise.

Watch our Reel beneath 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 permits guests to study extra concerning the historical past of girls within the arts and the way they advocate for one another.

The museum additionally affords quite a lot of instructional applications, that are nice for each adults and youngsters. 

When you’re in search of a spot to understand and study artwork created by ladies, the Nationwide Museum of Girls within the Arts ought to be prime of your listing.

Speaking about ladies in Artwork, you would possibly wish to take a look at the Guerilla Women exhibition within the Hirshhorn Museum, talked about beneath.  Put it This Means speaksout for equality and inclusion for feminine artists.

Art museum
Fascinating stat that shouldn’t be!

10. Dumbarton Oaks Museum

Positioned 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 historic Egyptian statues, stroll by a gallery devoted to Byzantine artwork (for which the museum is most well-known), and see a set of artworks from the pre-Columbian Americas. 

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

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

11. President Lincoln’s Cottage

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

When you’re excited by studying extra concerning the previous presidents of the USA, you should definitely take a look at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

This museum was the previous residence of President Lincoln and was in-built 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 authentic art work. There are additionally plenty of pictures and paperwork on show detailing the president’s life. 

Remember to stroll across the grounds, which embrace a backyard and a cemetery. The cottage is open to the general public day by day by guided tour solely. You possibly can reserve your tour online here.

people listening to a tour inside ford's theater

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

We liked 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

When you’re in search of a museum for kids, then you definately’ll wish to take them to the Nationwide Geographic Museum.

This museum is a good place to study concerning the world round us, that includes the enduring Nat Geo pictures and inspirational tales. 

There are reveals on the whole lot from animals to historic cultures, or you possibly can merely seize a selfie with the museum’s well-known big globe, which stands within the middle of the museum. 

The globe is interactive and is designed to assist guests study completely different international locations and areas.

The museum additionally has a dome theatre and planetarium the place guests can study concerning the night time sky. 

For these excited by 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 throughout 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 reveals that goal to create a greater understanding of what occurred throughout this era in historical past. 

You may as well see quite a few testimonies from survivors who share their tales, which may be fairly highly effective to witness firsthand. 

Chances are you’ll go away feeling saddened concerning the occasions of the previous, nevertheless it’s an necessary 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 concerning the Native People who lived right here lengthy earlier than, then it is best to take into account visiting the Nationwide Museum of the American Indian.

The museum was in-built 2004 and homes a set of over 825,000 objects, paperwork, and pictures, making it one of many largest collections of Native American artifacts on the earth. 

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

There are additionally rotating exhibitions that includes modern artwork and associated subjects. 

The museum is free to go to and is without doubt one of the greatest 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 latest artwork.

The museum was in-built 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 equivalent to Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Jackson Pollock. 

It additionally hosts quite a lot 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 modern artwork.

We’re actually glad we determined to take a fast look inside on our Washington DC Vacation Journey. We liked 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 very awe-inspiring place. As quickly as you stroll in, it’s simple to see why it’s some of the in style museums in Washington D.C. 

All over the 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 excited by 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 have now come because the human race. It makes you are feeling humble and appreciative of life on Earth.

Make sure that to take a look at the particular reveals that discover a number of subjects in higher element. And naturally, ensure that to wander by 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 without doubt 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 US 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 without cost, however they need to reserve a spot on a tour. Guests may also take a look at the Exhibition Corridor which is a part of the Guests Middle. It is a museum showcasing interactive reveals about Congress and the U.S. Capitol.

Right here you possibly can study concerning 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 in style. It’s really helpful you guide as far prematurely as potential 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 out to be 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 the USA.

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

The museum can 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 few 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 set 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 residence to koi fish. The Nationwide Museum of Asian Artwork represents the cultures of nations equivalent to China, Japan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia. 

It’s a place the place folks can study concerning 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 folks normally ask us about museums in Washington D.C.

Does Washington D.C. have free museums?

Sure, Washington D.C. has many free museums. All the museums belonging to The Smithsonian Institute are free to enter, as is the USA 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 greatest 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 points of interest on this space. If touring slightly additional out, you’ll additionally need lodging near a Metro station. Parking is at a premium in DC, so we don’t advocate driving round.

Listed below are some lodge suggestions from us:

  • We stayed at The Madison Hotel on 15th road 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 necessary of all, was the handy location. Book your stay here.
  •  The Duo Nomad Hostel is a good price range lodging choice 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 after 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, nonetheless, so might want to issue that into your price range.
  • Click here if looking for vacation rentals.

Earlier than You Go

Mom and two daughters riding bikes in Washington DC

So there you might have it, these are the most effective museums in Washington D.C, and as you possibly can see, there may be a lot to see and study on this fascinating metropolis.

Earlier than you go, we extremely advocate you rent a motorbike to get from A to B. Most of the museums are positioned on the Nationwide Mall, nevertheless it’s large, so save your self a while (and power) strolling and biking from place to position.

We extremely advocate 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 plenty of time and made it extra manageable to do with children susceptible 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 might also like our information on free or low cost issues to do in DC and the best way 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 simply take pleasure in visiting? Tell us within the feedback.

When you discovered this information to the Museums in Washington DC useful, please take into account sharing it. You should utilize the beneath picture to save lots of to Pinterest.