The Top 5 Best Washington D.C. Museums

by Benjamin Lewis

If you’ve ever made the pilgrimage to our nation’s capitol, then you probably already know which of the best Washington D.C. museums you like the most.  But, truthfully, if you’re planning your first Washington D.C. trip, then the sheer number of museums in The District can make your head spin.  Which museum should I visit first?  Can I fully appreciate this or that museum in a single day?  And, what about this new, Washington D.C. African American museum?  Well, don’t worry!  From the crustiest, dustiest old museum to the fresh and new National Museum of African American History and Culture, we’ve got it all covered!


National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Tour the newest addition to the Smithsonian Institution with National Museum of African American History and Culture tickets!  If you’re a Washington D.C. African American, then you might already know that in 2016, Barack Obama ceremoniously opened the doors to this long-awaited repository of historical artifacts.  Inside, you’ll find Harriet Tubman’s hymnal and a shawl gifted to her by Queen Victoria.  You’ll also see Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves, Chuck Berry’s Cadillac, and a jumpsuit and cape that belonged to James Brown.  And, the best part is:  If you’re a Washington D.C. African American, you can now receive a discount to one of the best Washington D.C. Museums.


National Air and Space Museum

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In terms of footfall, the most popular museum in the United States sits behind only the Louvre and the National Museum of China.  So, when you’re talking about the best Washington D.C. museums, the National Air and Space Museum always enters the conversation.  The items on display evoke a strong sense of both wonder and national pride.  Within the museum, you’ll discover the Apollo 11 command module, the Friendship 7, which was famously flown by astronaut John Glenn, Lindbergh’s The Spirit of St. Louis, the Wright brothers’ plane, and much, much more!  If you find yourself short on time during your next Washington D.C. vacation, try your best to squeeze this one in before you leave.


National Museum of Natural History

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One of the best Washington D.C. museums on the National Mall also happens to be one of the most popular museums in the world!  The National Museum of Natural History began exhibiting plant, animal, and mineral specimens all the way back in 1910.  And, just a couple of years ago, the museum welcomed over 7 million visitors.  That’s good enough to make it the fourth most visited museum in the world for that year.  Highlights include The Hope Diamond, The Star of Asia, an adult coelacanth, and The Nation’s T. rex.  But, you’ll have to wait until June 8th of next year to see the T. rex skeleton on display in the newly renovated David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time.


National Museum of American History

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The United States still represents one of the most newly-formed countries on Earth.  Yet, the broad scope of a museum dedicated to its entire history would still draw a lot of questions about what’s inside.  Luckily, the National Museum of American History probably stands as the most well-organized museum on this list.  Each wing celebrates its own theme and centers around a signature exhibit.  For example, in the transportation wing, you’ll find a John Bull locomotive from 1831.  In the Spark!Lab, the main attraction comes in the form of a Vassar telescope from 1865.  You can also see the Greensboro lunch counter, the original Star Spangled Banner Flag, the Clara Barton Red Cross ambulance, and much more!


National Gallery of Art

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Most people think of fine art when they hear about the Smithsonian Institution.  And, you can view more of it at the National Gallery of Art than anywhere else in Washington D.C.  Simply put, if you have a favorite artist, chances are vastly in favor of you discovering one of his or her masterpieces on display.  The list of artists shown could take up an entire blog post by itself.  But, especially interesting pieces include the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the New World, Calder’s largest mobile, and El Greco’s Saint Martin and the Beggar.  The collection seems never-ending; so, you might want to consider breaking up your visit over two days.


Psst!  Hey!  We’ve got a question for you:  What’s your favorite Washington D.C. museum?  The NewseumThe International Spy Museum, perhaps?  Let us know in the comments and we’ll try to add it during our next update.

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