There are many amazing things to do in Washington D.C., the capital of the United States of America. From sites of momentous events to the amazing architecture, the city is a giant whirlwind of whispers of the past and current moments that are writing the future. It is no surprise, then, that the home of the Smithsonian Institution is a hotspot for some of the best museums in the country. Some of the free things to do in Washington D.C. include many of the museums that put the education of the people above capitalistic gain. Even the White House, while not a museum in the traditional sense, is full of history and can be toured upon request, as long as you do so far enough in advance.
With over 70 museums to choose from some travelers may find planning their trip to be a daunting task. However, here are the top 10 museums that travelers should visit this summer.
10 National Museum Of African American History And Culture
One of the greatest history museums in Washington D.C., this museum is the only one of its kind, devoted exclusively to documenting and teaching the life, history, and culture of African Americans. Established in 2003, it is the result of decades of efforts by many to share and highlight the many contributions of African Americans. The design of the building — a three-tiered inverted pyramid — was inspired by a Yoruban caryatid, a West African traditional column or post.
9 National Museum Of Asian Art
This museum is dedicated to preserving, showcasing, and interpreting Asian art. Within the museum are two galleries: the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The Freer Gallery features a premier collection of Asian Art, housing objects that date back to Neolithic times and go up to the early 20th century. The Sackler Gallery, on the other hand, houses some of the best and rarest Asian art in the world — including ancient Chinese jade. Both galleries also feature special and innovative programs for all ages of visitors, including podcasts, concerts, and lectures.
8 National Museum Of The American Indian
Home to the world's most expansive and unique collections of Native American culture, this museum covers the entire Western Hemisphere. From indigenous landscaping to exhibitions featuring photographs and objects from various tribes, the museum collaborated with tribes and native communities to create an educational and historical look into the lives of the people who first inhabited the western side of the globe. It was the first museum of its kind to present all the exhibitions from the viewpoint of the Native people.
7 Hirshhorn Museum And Sculpture Garden
Lovers of contemporary and modern art need not look farther than this unique museum. Featuring current, international artists, the museum provides a platform for the artists and their art that are here and now, rather than long gone. From the building itself to the sunken sculpture garden, everything has been artistically designed with the theme and tone in mind, giving visitors an interesting and in-depth experience from the moment they park until they drive away.
6 National Museum Of African Art
With more than 9,000 works of art, this African art museum showcases nearly every part of the African continent. Containing a wide range of art forms and media over the course of human history to today, it is the only museum of its kind in the United States. It is dedicated to sharing the beauty, power, and diversity of not only the art but the culture of African communities worldwide. They also offer panel discussions and film screenings to increase the conversation around African art and culture.
5 Renwick Gallery Of The Smithsonian American Art Museum
A branch of the much larger Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Renwick Gallery celebrates modern craft makers and decorative artists who use both time-honored methods and innovative creativity in their work. Designed in 1858 by James Renwick Jr., it was the first building built specifically for the purpose of being an art museum in the United States. The exhibit pieces are made from all kinds of mediums — from traditional textiles to mundane objects and bugs.
4 National Air And Space Museum
The world's most significant and largest collection of space and aviation artifacts is housed and featured in the National Air and Space Museum. Ranging from rockets to missiles and other flying-related contraptions, the museum is home to such historical innovations as the space shuttle Discovery and the Spirit of St. Louis. There are many interactive exhibits to inspire and educate, especially younger guests, but everyone can find something to enjoy within the museum. Ongoing renovations mean that there is always something new to discover.
3 National Museum Of Natural History
The largest natural history collection in the world is also the most popular museum in its category. Boasting an expanse of over a mile, the museum is full of history, from the fiery birth of the planet to the Earth as it exists today. Interactive and informative, it provides fun and exploration for individuals and families of all ages. Visitors can learn about the ancient dinosaurs, delve into other cultures, or discover the many creatures that inhabit the world. There is always something new to see in this museum.
2 The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Designed as a living memorial to those who were affected and killed during the Holocaust, this museum was built to inspire people around the world to confront hate, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. The museum is a raw and powerful reminder of the fragile freedom most enjoy and the eternal need for vigilance and education in preserving everyone's rights and values. It also works to make sure that current and future generations remember the horrors and lessons brought forth by the Holocaust, as many have already started to deny its existence.
1 International Spy Museum
No matter what media one consumes, spies and their secret lives excite the imagination and inspire many fantasies of what it would be like to be in their shoes. In this museum, guests learn all about espionage and other intelligence operations. Interactive and educational, guests are given special missions and identities as they explore and learn about the history of spy operations around the globe. Featuring artifacts such as the Enigma Machine and the Trotsky Ice Axe, there are hundreds of spy tools to discover, from real life as well as from media.