Washington DC museums are regarded by many as the best in the nation. Without leaving the city limits, you'll have the chance to see priceless works of art, treasures from history, and exhibits celebrating famous Americans. With so many options available, you could spends weeks exploring every museum the city has to offer. While most people do not have the luxury to see everything, visits to the best museums in DC are easy to work in, from Washington DC art museums to science, nature, history, and more. No matter your interests, you'll find a museum to fill you with wonder and make your vacation more interesting.
The city has a thriving arts scene, and the collection of Washington DC art museums is part of what makes this happen. A wide array of these celebrate artists past and present, some with names everyone knows and others with a small circle of admirers. The treasures contained at the National Gallery of Art include sculptures from Roy Lichtenstein and a mobile by Alexander Calder. In total, the collection spans the many years from the Middle Ages to the current time.
Of course the National Gallery is just the beginning of Washington DC art museums you could visit. Some have a broad collection like the National Gallery, while others are more focused. The Phillips Collection, tucked away in the lovely Dupont Circle neighborhood, focuses on modern art, while the Corcoran Gallery is loved for its collection of twentieth-century art, including favorites Claude Monet, Mary Casatt, and Edgar Degas. Yet another one of the Washington DC museums, the Textile Museum, proves that art does not have have a painting to be interesting.
Several of the art museums in DC are part of the network of Smithsonian Institution museums. Many of them are easy to find, a short walk from the National Mall, and every last one is free to enter. At the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, the exhibits focus on Asian art. You can continue your tour of world art at other Smithsonian Museums is DC, especially at the National Museum of African Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which shares space with the National Portrait Gallery. The smaller Renwick Gallery, with focuses on American crafts, is located in a beautiful old house designed by William Corcoran.
With no admission charges and close proximity, it's easy to visit several of the Smithsonian museums in DC all in one visit. Although each one is so interesting, you might find yourself staying the better part of the day. In one mile square bordered by Independence and Constitution Avenues between Third and 14th Streets, you'll find ten of the top museums in DC. With a few minutes' walk, you can soar to the stars at the National Air and Space Museum and then check out the Hope Diamond at the National History Museum. Next door, the renovated National Museum of American History is home to the flag that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner, Julia Child's kitchen, and lots of items from pop culture.
The rest of the Smithsonian Museums in DC are easy to reach by the Metro or the bus. One of the smaller Smithsonian museums, the Anacostia Community Museum, explores African American culture; it's just minutes from the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Park rangers led tours of the home where the abolitionist lived, and the visitor center shows an interesting movie throughout the day.
If you're looking for a chance to learn more about the Federal government, you'll find that many of the Washington DC museums fit the bill. The National Archives and Library of Congress each have interactive museums that bring history to life. A visitor center just outside the White House is one of the best places to learn about the American presidency. The Capitol Visitor Center, which opened to great acclaim and big visitor numbers at the end of 2008, is packed with exhibits exploring the Legislative Branch and other topics of American history.