Museums for All Ages in Washington, DC

Whether centered on art, history, science, or social studies, there is a museum that will appeal to everyone at any age!

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African-American Civil War Museum
Located directly across the street from the National Park Service’s African-American Civil War Memorial, the African-American Civil War Museum highlights the enormous contributions of the almost 210,000 members of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War. It details their historic role in the abolishment of slavery and keeping America united under one flag. // Updated Dec 2019

Bureau of Engraving & Printing
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, part of the United States Department of the Treasury, has been the sole producer of US currency since 1877. While they do not produce coins (all coinage is produced by the United States Mint), guests are invited to visit and see millions of dollars being printed from a gallery overlooking the production floor. The free 40-minute experience also includes historical exhibits and currency products for sale in their Visitor Center. // Updated Dec 2019

Daughters of the American Revolution Museum
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution’s goals are historic preservation, education, and patriotism by collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting the material culture and social history of pre-industrial America. At their museum, visitors are invited to enjoy galleries, exhibitions, and a look into 31 different period rooms that illustrate American interiors from the 17th- to the early 20th-century. // Updated Dec 2019

International Spy Museum
Unfamiliar with the International Spy Museum? Do you have a James Bond fan in the family? Then enter a whole world of intelligence and espionage! The Museum lifts the veil of secrecy on the hidden world of intelligence and espionage — exploring its successes and failures, challenges, and controversies. In addition to their permanent exhibits, guests are invited to enjoy scheduled programs and unique interactive experiences in the shadowy world of spying; see their full calendar here. // Updated Dec 2019

National Air & Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum, part of the Smithsonian family, showcases the history and science of aviation and spaceflight as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology/geophysics. The second-most visited museum in the United States, this top destination boasts artifacts, displays, and exhibits that include popular attractions like the 1903 Wright Flyer, Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo 11’s command module Columbia, and a real lunar rock!

The Air and Space Museum also has a public observatory with high-powered telescopes, virtual reality and flight simulators, and an IMAX Theater.

The museum has a second location — an annex in Northern Virginia (Chantilly, VA) — called the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Commonly known as the Udvar-Hazy Center, this location wows visitors with two large hangars that display thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, and the Space Shuttle Discovery! // Updated Jan 2020

National Archives Museum
The National Archives Museum, the nation’s official record keeper, is home to the stories of the American journey. This nonpartisan institution has been safeguarding and providing public access to billions of records from all three branches of the United States government, including our country’s most important documents: the official Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights!

Even though the Archives was established in 1934, its major holdings date back to 1775. This includes important documents that tell stories of our country, from slave ship manifests and the Emancipation Proclamation to Indian treaties making transitory promises. Guests can even see the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, bearing the bold signature of Bonaparte — a richly bound document doubled the territory of our young republic! // Updated Jan 2020

National Building Museum
While the National Building Museum isn’t initially thought of as a kid-friendly destination, we see it as one of our area’s hidden treasures, offering many kid-friendly touch-and-play exhibits and opportunities. Best of all, visit PLAY WORK BUILD, an exciting ongoing exhibit takes children and adults alike through an exploration of play with an immersive, hands-on installation featuring molded foam blocks of all shapes and sizes, and an original virtual block play experience.

National Gallery of Art
Consisting of multiple buildings and a sculpture garden with a reflecting pool, the National Gallery of Art is one of the largest museums in North America, as well as one of the most highly-attended museums in the US! Home to the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas and the largest mobile created by Alexander Calder, the Gallery boasts many permanent and special exhibits showcasing artistic talent in all forms. // Updated Jan 2020

National Geographic Museum
Located just blocks from the White House, the National Geographic Museum features ever-changing exhibits in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling, and education. Visitors have the opportunity to get to know the work of National Geographic conservationists, photographers, and scientists through engaging, dynamic exhibitions featuring everything from iconic photography and world-famous artifacts to interactive learning stations and behind-the-scenes stories. // Updated Jan 2020

National Museum of African-American History & Culture
The National Museum of African-American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African-American life, history, and culture. This four-level Smithsonian destination features exhibits and displays that span the centuries and capture nearly every aspect of the African-American experience, from arts and athletics to slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. // Updated Jan 2020

National Museum of American History
The National Museum of American History showcases the heritage of the United States, including politics, culture, science, and military, to name a few topics. The museum’s mission is the collection, care, study, and interpretation of objects that reflect the experience of the American people. This includes popular displays such as the original Star-Spangled Banner (1814), Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown (2013), to name a few. // Updated Jan 2020

National Museum of the American Indian
Exhibits, landscaping, and architecture combine to give visitors a true sense of the spirit of the Native American Indians. Meet the native peoples who have lived in the DC/MD/VA region from the 1600s to today and view one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world, representing more than 12,000-years of history.

National Museum of Natural History
At the National Museum of Natural History, explore the galleries and exhibits to learn about animals and ecosystems, human diversity, earth sciences, and more. Some museum must-sees are the Hope Diamond, a mummified cat, live butterflies and plants, a live coral reef, and several impressive animal displays! Be prepared to “ooh” and “ahh” in the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals, and develop a fascination with different animal structures in the Bone Hall.

National Museum of Women in the Arts
The National Museum of Women in the Arts is known as the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to recognizing women in the arts. Located in the heart of Washington DC, this museum not only offers a unique look at the wide variety of art created exclusively by women, but also offers a variety of events, learning opportunities for all ages, and tours. Check out their calendar for more information on event opportunities, including Free Community Day, where you can explore the collection with free admission.

National Portrait Gallery
Located in Northwest Washington, DC, adjacent to Capital One Arena, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery invites guests to experience portraiture beyond the frame. Their collections, which presents people of remarkable character and achievement, were initially restricted to paintings, prints, and the like. However, today, they’ve grown to over 23,000 items in all media, from daguerreotypes to digital. The National Portrait Gallery is also home to the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House; their America’s Presidents exhibition lies at the heart of the Gallery’s mission to tell the country’s history through the individuals who have shaped it. // Updated Dec 2019

National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum’s galleries explore America’s postal history and philately (the study and collection of stamps) from colonial times to the present. For lovers of all things transportation, enjoy exhibits featuring planes, mail coaches, wagons, trains, and more! Additionally, several touch-and-play opportunities will entertain younger visitors, and kids can learn the history of stamps (and see thousands of them!) and how the US mail system works.

Newseum – Closed –
Voted one of the top things to do in DC by Travelers Choice, the Newseum highlights how the media reported on and affected important news moments and events, including 9/11, the Vietnam War, and the Berlin Wall, as well as older events like the assassination of President Lincoln. Visitors get up-close and personal with historical artifacts and go undercover and behind the scenes in multimedia exhibits and a 4-D theater.

President Lincoln’s Cottage
Home to our country’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln’s Cottage was the home of Lincoln for 13-months while he developed the Emancipation Proclamation. Through guided tours, reservations highly recommended, visitors get to know Lincoln as a person, not just our president.

Smithsonian Institution Building
Built in 1855, the Castle serves as the Smithsonian’s information center for those visiting the National Mall and its museums. Besides information and the history of the Smithsonian Institution, visitors will find permanent exhibits, a scale model of the city, and the Smithson crypt (final resting place of the Institution’s benefactor, James Smithson) complete with some of its namesake’s personal belongings.

The George Washington University Museum & The Textile Museum
As DC’s latest destination for the public to enjoy both The Textile Museum and the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum showcases artwork and historic artifacts representative of local, national, and international history.

Established in 1925, The Textile Museum highlights the significance of the world’s textiles and boasts more than 19,000 textiles for the public to view. The Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, found within the GW Museum, details the evolution of our nation’s capital and includes a variety of historical items, including documents, maps, stamps, photographs, and other remarkable artifacts.

United States Botanic Garden
Located on the National Mall, minutes from the US Capitol, the United States Botanic Garden is a family-friendly museum steeped in history! As one of the oldest Botanic Gardens in the US (established by Congress in 1820), this landmark emphasizes the crucial role plants play in the ecosystem. Visitors can explore living exhibits, including 12,000 accessions, which equates to about 65,000 plants! While there, be sure to ask about the Wilkes plants, too (read below)!

In 1838, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes set out on the United States Exploring Expedition commissioned by Congress to circumnavigate the globe and explore the Pacific Ocean. Between 1838 and 1842, the expedition traveled 87,000-miles and collected a large assortment of horticultural and botanical specimens. These formed the nucleus of the present-day garden. Even now, there are four plants in the garden that are believed to be directly related to the original Wilkes Expedition! // Updated Dec 2019

Disclaimer/Terms: These opportunities are subject to last minute cancellations and changes that might not be reflected in this post. Please, always confirm by calling/clicking.

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