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If museums are your idea of a good time, then you have to take a trip to Washington, D.C. In addition to other worthy museums located throughout the Capital city, the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, offers 17 museums all on its own. With 11 located on the beautiful National Mall and six others spread throughout the Capital area, there is a museum for every taste and interest. And the best part of all, they’re free!
African American Museum
The African American Museum has already welcomed over 1 million visitors, even though it just opened in September of 2016. Conveniently located near the Washington Monument, this museum is dedicated to African American life, including culture, history and art. Among some of the interesting artifacts you’ll find here are a railway from the segregation era, Nat Turner’s Bible and even a fedora owned by Michael Jackson.
National Museum of African Art
The National Museum of African Art is a one-of-a-kind treasure in that it is the only national museum in the country that is totally dedicated to the collection, conservation and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art.
National Air and Space Museum
Science lovers and flight enthusiasts will want to check out the National Air and Science Museum, a uniquely designed building located on the National Mall that features 23 galleries of exhibits based on aircraft, rockets, spacecrafts, missiles and other artifacts related to flight. In addition, the museum also features a planetarium and an IMAX theater with a five story screen. During your visit, make sure to see the Hubble Telescope test vehicle and the Wright Flyer from 1903.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
As the country’s first collection of American art, the American Art Museum offers a unique snapshot of the American experience over the course of three centuries. In addition to the building itself being one of the oldest in Washington, D.C., the collection inside is one of the largest and includes pieces from famous artists like Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keefe, as well as impressionist paintings, modern art, photography, Latino art and more.
American History Museum
Not to be outdone, the American History Museum also exhibits generations of American life from Colonial times to the present, but focuses on many aspects including culture, politics, technology and science. This is the place to go if you want to see both the original Star Spangled Banner and the famous ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, all under one roof.
National Museum of the American Indian
The experience at the National Museum of the American Indian begins before you ever even step inside the front doors, thanks to its unique curved architecture and natural landscaping that were designed in collaboration with Native American tribes and communities. Inside, you’ll find an extensive collection of Native American artifacts and photographs, as well as the Mitsitam Café, which features a Native-inspired menu.
The Anacostia Community Museum is a unique facility that explores aspects of urban community life including gentrification, employment, modernization and environmental change.
Natural History Museum
Not to be confused with the National History Museum, the Natural History Museum tells the story of our planet, from the very beginning through many different eras. Here, you can learn about from the dinosaurs and the ancient Egyptians to the ocean and the infamous Hope Diamond. Measuring larger in size than 18 football fields, it is home to the largest collection of natural history in the entire world.
National Postal Museum
The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is exactly what it sounds like – a museum dedicated to the history of the U.S. Post Office. In addition to viewing the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps in the world, visitors can also check out mail delivery vehicles, mailboxes, meters and other postal materials that were used before the invention of stamps. You can also ride in a stagecoach, check out a small town post office from the 1920’s and go home with your own free stamps!