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The Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C.

The Smithsonian Museums is not one single museum. It is a group of museums, which are as a whole called the Smithsonian Institution. It is one of the most famous museums and research complexes consisting of 17 museums, galleries, and a zoo. You will be able to discover things about the dawn of man and the history of art which spans across several countries. There are at least 150 million objects and works of art to uncover. The Smithsonian Museums collection is a unique collection of knowledge for visitors all around the world. Admission is free at every Smithsonian Museum. Now let us look at what to expect when you visit each of these museums and galleries.

smithsonian museums

National Museum of Natural History – You can uncover dinosaur fossils and the natural world at this museum located on the National Mall. It was opened in 1910 with a desire to adduce education about the natural world. Its dome is enormous and equates to almost 18 football fields. The museums have at least 140 million artifacts and specimens. You can eat at the Atrium Cafe, open 11 am-3 pm.

 It is located on the National Mall and admission is free. The timings for the visit are 10 am-5.30 pm, however, hours can be extended during spring and summer until 7.30 pm. Except for Christmas Day, it is open every day of the year. The easiest way to reach the museums is through public transportation. Although there is parking available for visitors with disabilities, regular parking is extremely limited. If you’re using metro transport, take the orange or blue lines to the Smithsonian station.

National Air & Space Museum – The museum opened in 1976 and has been educating and inspiring future astronauts and pilots across the world. The museum has the largest and the most important space artifacts anywhere in the world. It is located on Jefferson Drive between 7th and 4th Street, SW., and admission is free. The hours are 10 am-5.30 pm with the easiest way to reach it is Metrorail or Metrobus. The closest metro station is L’Enfant Plaza. You can dine at the Mars Cafe, which is a coffee and espresso bar open from 10 am-5 pm.

National Museum of American History – This museum is dedicated to celebrating and preserving American history. It is situated on Constitution Avenue NW and along the National Mall. It presents all the American history and its glory with up to 3 million artifacts. The nearest Metro station is Smithsonian, and its timings are 10 am-5.30 pm. You can eat at America’s table open from 11 am-4 pm.

National Zoo – At the National Zoo, you will be able to find 1,500 plus animals including lions, tigers, and giraffes. 25% of the zoo population is endangered and they house up to 300 species. The Zoo is in Woodley Park neighborhood and admission is free. Connecticut Avenue is the main entrance to the Zoo. You should wear appropriate clothes as you might have to do a lot of walking and hence walking shoes should be preferred. Timings are 8 am-7 pm. The options available for dining are the Elevation Bar & grill and the Zoo Market Cafe.

National Museum of African American History and Culture – It is located on 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Opened on September 24th, 2016, it documents African American history and culture. The museum is open Tuesday –Sunday from 10 am-5.30 pm and 12 am-5.30 pm on Mondays. The closest Metro station is the Federal Triangle. DC Circulator’s National Mall route is your best bus route option.

American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery – These museums have the most abundant collection of American Art anywhere in the world. The two locations of the museums are the Penn Quarter and the Renwick Gallery. It represents and accounts for art spanning hundreds of years. The museum is free to enter and is just a few steps away from the White House. The American Art Museum’s address is 8th and F Streets NW, while the Renwick Gallery is found on Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street NW. The museums are open Wednesday-Sunday 11.30-7 pm for the American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery is open 10 am-5.30 pm. You can eat at the sweet home cafe which is open from 11 am-3 pm and offers traditional offerings. If you are visiting the American Art Museum you can dine in at the Courtyard Cafe which is open 11.30-5.30 pm and offers American dishes along with coffee, water, and beer.

Smithsonian Art Museum scaled

National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – It acts as a partner facility to the National Air and Space Museum and is in Virginia. The two locations combined can attract up to 8 million visitors every year. It offers thousands of artifacts to look around and has several exhibitions and activities to do. The museum is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway in Chantilly, VA, and minutes from Washington International Airport. Regular hours are 10 am-5.30 pm. Parking is available and is $15 but free after 4 pm. You can also reach the center by metro by taking the Silver Line to Wiehle Reston East station. The best option to eat is at the Shake Shack as it offers burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. Its time is 11 am-5 pm and it offers milkshakes as well.

Smithsonian Institution Building (Castle) – inside the Smithsonian Institution castle you will find a detailed map of all the 17 DC area Smithsonian properties which include museums, galleries, and the zoo. There is also a coffee shop and a snack bar available along with a large seating area and free WI-FI. It is located at 1000 Jefferson Drive SW and is open from Monday to Sunday 8.30 am-5.30 pm. The castle is currently closed as it is undergoing a multi-year renovation. Keep checking the castle’s website to get more information.

National Museum of the American Indian – The museum is located on Independence Avenue SW on the National Mall. As the name suggests, the museum displays a large collection of Native American artifacts, pictures, and media. This museum is fully dedicated to bringing back to life Native American history and its culture. The best way to reach the museum is through public transportation. If you travel by metro, get off at the L’Enfant Plaza stop and then use the Maryland Avenue exit. It is open Monday through Sunday from 10 am-5 pm. Dine at the Mitsitam Espresso Bar, open from 10 am to 5.30 pm.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – It showcases and displays modern and contemporary art which includes paintings and sculptures. The museum is situated on 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW on the National Mall. The main passion of the museum is to share experiences through arts and crafts. More than 12,00 pieces are available for viewing at the museum. To get there by metro, the closest stop is Smithsonian. It is open Monday-Sunday from 10 am-5 pm. You can dine in at Dolcezza Coffee and Gelato @Hirshhorn.

Smithsonian Museum scaled

National Portrait Gallery – Pop culture enthusiasts, history fans, and general art lovers can enjoy the museum’s display of pictures, paintings, and sculptures. The location of the museum is 8th Street and F streets NW. Admission is free, and the museum is open Monday-Sunday from 11.30 am-7 pm. The best way to get there is to take the Metro Red Line and stop at Chinatown. After this, you are just a short walk away from there. Dine at the Courtyard Cafe open 11.30 am-5.30 pm.

National Museum of Asian Art – You will find all kinds of breathtaking Asian art from around the world over here. The museum opened to the public in 1987 and now holds up to 26,000 objects. The location of the museum is 1050 Independence Avenue SW. It is open seven days a week from 10 am-5.30 pm except for Christmas Day. To reach there by metro you need to get off at the Smithsonian Metro station on orange, blue, and silver lines.

National Postal Museum – This museum opened in 1993 and celebrates America’s rich postal history. It is situated next to Union Station in DC’s NoMa neighborhood. The exact address for the museum is 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE and it is open from 10 am-5.30 pm seven days a week. If you’re taking the metro, get off at Union Station and use the Massachusetts Avenue exit. 

National Museum of African Art – It boasts the largest collection of African art anywhere in the United States. Its vision is to teach and educate everyone about African history and culture and displays about 12,000 objects in total. The museum is free of cost to visit and is open every day of the free except 25th December from 10 am-5.30 pm. The best way to reach there is public transport and that is by stopping at the L’Enfant Plaza stop. After stopping, use the Maryland Avenue exit.

Anacostia Community Museum – It helps to highlight and focus on the impact of historical social issues on communities. The museum is located a mile away from the Anacostia stop on the metro’s Green Line. There are also taxi and ride-sharing options like Uber and Lyft available.

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The museum does offer parking and has free shuttle bus service pick up at the National Mall in the summer. The timings are 10 am-5.30 pm every day of the week.

If you are looking to visit Washington D.C in the near or recent future, make sure the Smithsonian Museums is on your list. All these museums, galleries, and zoos offer a unique experience and perspective.

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