9 Best Museums In Washington

Best Museums In Washington

There is no doubt that Washington DC is home to one of the most iconic museum collections in the world today – the Smithsonian Institution. Here, you will find some of the best cultural and historical objects.

Another great aspect of the museum is the free admission. However, there are also many other museums in Washington DC.

In this article, we will look into some of the best museums in Washington DC. 

What Are Some Of The Best Museums In Washington DC?

Some of the best museums in Washington DC include:

1. National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Source [The African American Design Nexus]

Established in 2016 as part of the Mall, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is considered one of the top museums in the city.

Measuring roughly 400,000-sqft, this museum is considered the best place if you want to learn more about African American history. 

The museum consists of four stories, which is only half the museum. The other half is located four stories below the ground.

Here, you will find the amazing journey that shaped African-American history.

You can also make use of its online collections to look into some historical artifacts like Will Calhoun’s drums and Zora Neale Hurston’s commencement gown. 

2. National Museum of Asian Art

The National Museum of Asian Art is quite easy to overlook, mostly because of its prime location on the Mall as well as its being split between two buildings. However, you will find an impressive range of Asian art after you step inside the museum. 

Formerly known as Freer and Sackler Galleries, the National Museum of Asian Art consisted of private art collections of Charles Lang Freer.

The crown jewel of this museum is the Peacock Room – this is an amazing dining room that is stocked with the best porcelain tableware and has been decorated by James McNeill Whistler.

Some of the collections you will find here include Indian, Chinese, and Japanese masterpieces. 

3. National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum is considered a top museum if you have ever thought of visiting space or soaring as high as the sky. This museum opened its gates in 1976 and has become one of the most visited museums in Washington today. 

The National Air and Space Museum also holds the title of the largest museum in the country, with more than 9,000 space artifacts as well as 30,000 aviation artifacts.

This means that you will find the top artifacts, including the first flyer developed by the Wright Brothers and the most advanced spacesuits. You can also visit the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater if you want to journey through space without having to lift your feet from the ground. 

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4. National Museum of the American Indian

National Museum of the American Indian
Source [Smithsonian]

As you can guess by the name, the National Museum of the American Indian is a museum that is dedicated to the indigenous people of America.

This museum joined the Mall in 2004 and contains some of the most significant artifacts. Additionally, the cafeteria is also quite renowned and offers a wide range of indigenous cuisines. 

The museum has Kasota limestone-clad walls that look very dramatic. The main entrance was introduced in 1989, which was the same year that the federal legislation was introduced.

At the museum, you will find many mediums that belonged to the indigenous people. Additionally, the artworks include woodworking, textiles, pottery, photography, and film. 

5. Phillips Collection

The Phillips Collection is a museum that is considered the place where you will find modern art collections.

This museum was formerly used by Duncan Phillips, who was the grandson of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company co-founder. 

Overall, this museum has quite a modern look and also plays host to a wide range of special tours and lectures.

Overall, you will find roughly 2,000 artworks here, like Christ and the High Priest (George Rouault, 1937), Dancer’s at the Barre (Edgar Degas, 1990), and the famous The Road Menders (Vincent van Gogh, 1889). 

6. National Museum of African Art

Located across its twin, the Sackler, the National Museum of African Art is located at the Enid Haupt Garden.

This museum opened its gates in 1987 and primarily focuses on contemporary and ancient work originating from sub-Saharan Africa. 

When you visit the mall, you will find various aspects of the culture and art the African landscape has to offer.

Some of the main attractions that you need to visit here include the embroidered hunter shirts, blankets from Mali, and various other types of rich ceremonial textiles and garb. 

7. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

If you want to learn more about the journey of the European Jews who were on their way towards genocide, then you should visit the famous United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

When you visit this museum, you will be provided with a fake passport (for keeping); this passport was handed to the victims of the Holocaust, most of which did not survive this unfortunate incident. 

The entire museum is divided into three floors, which also indicates three sub-sections – the Assault of the Nazis, The Final Solution, and the Final Chapter.

You will find many film footage and artifacts. Everything related to this tragedy is placed here and the details are very exhaustive. Hence, the museum recommends its visitors be above the age of 11 years and older.

Additionally, you will also find a café, a museum shop, and the Wexner Learning Center where you can read about the life experiences of the survivors and other topics like the Nuremberg Trials. 

8. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden is a modern and spectacular cylindrical building that stands out from the neo-classical architecture of the Mall.

Completed in 1974, the structure was originally meant to house Joseph Hirshhorn’s collection of sculptures and paintings of the 20th century. 

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Today, you will find a wide range of art in this museum, which includes video and digital art, sculpture, photography, painting, and paper works. You will find some of the top exhibitions today, ranging from the Infinity Mirror of Kusama to the Trace of Ai Weiwei.

Once you, you should also check out the sculpture garden, where you will find works made by Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, and Rodin. 

Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Source [Wikipedia]

Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum is one of the most popular museums in Washington DC.

Here, you will only find large-scale modern pieces of art. The museum underwent a massive $30 million renovation in 2015. 

You may come to know about the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum via the 2015 ‘Wonder’ exhibit, which was the most featured photo on Instagram.

This museum is known to celebrate design and craft in this digital era. You will find a wide range of exhibits here, which also includes the ‘Murder Is Her Hobby’ exhibit, which was a collection used by detectives to solve a range of crimes. 

Final Thoughts 

One of the most attractive aspects of Washington DC is the sheer number of museums you will find here. Overall, the city does everything in its power to offer an intriguing and tailored exploration of culture, history, and art.

In Washington, you will find museums related to almost everything, ranging from temples from ancient times to the latest high-tech spacecraft. Another great aspect of these museums is that most of them are free to enter.

When you are in town, it is suggested that you visit the best museums in Washington DC that we have listed for you in this article.

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