DC is known for being home to world-class museums. In addition to the fabulous slate of museums along the National Mall, there is a vast collection of museums to investigate everything from crime, spying and news to art, history and famous figures.
Arts and Science
The Phillips Collection
The first museum of modern art in the U.S., The Phillips Collection contains works from luminaries such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh, and is always refreshing its content with special exhibitions and additions to its collections.
The must-see, most well-known piece at the museum is Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, a vital piece of impressionist art that depicts the cultural shift of France in the late 19th century.
1600 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
National Museum of Women in the Arts
The National Museum of Women in the Arts is the world’s only museum solely dedicated to recognizing the achievements of female artists.
Some 4,500 artworks by more than 1,000 women artists comprise the collection, which includes pieces from the likes of Mary Cassatt, Clara Peeters and Joana Vasconcelos.
1250 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
Folger Shakespeare Library
This Capitol Hill institution houses the largest collection of Shakespeare artifacts in the world, as well as manuscripts, books and art from the Renaissance era, making it an ideal visit for educators, students, families and literary buffs.
Checking out all of the Shakespeare-themed materials and exhibits is a must, including The Shakespeare Gallery, which allows you to learn what it might have been like to see a play in William’s time. Also, make sure to check out the accompanying Folger Theatre schedule for upcoming plays.
201 East Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.
Madame Tussauds allows visitors to interact with celebrities and historical figures via their extensive collection of life-like wax figures. Hang out and pose for photos with some of your favorite athletes, actors, singers and historical figures across six uniquely themed rooms.
The Presidents Gallery is a must-see, as it is the only place in the universe where you can view all 44 Presidents of the United States in 3-D.
1001 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
Marian Koshland Science Museum
Named for a famed immunologist and molecular biologist, the Marian Koshland Science Museum endeavors to inspire visitors to use science in their communities to solve problems.
On weekends, the museum hosts hands-on science activities, like “Test Your Memory” to learn about the limitations of the brain and “Age in 3 Minutes,” which gives guests a firsthand perspective on growing old.
525 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Since its opening in 1993 in the historic City Post Office Building, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum has served to honor and celebrate America’s proud postal history.
Located in the heart of DC, the museum houses a vast collection of stamps, postal artifacts and informative exhibits for all ages. Inside the museum, visitors will learn the fascinating evolution of how Americans have used the mail to communicate with each other and the world.
2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002
The visually stunning Newseum covers 250,000 square feet and seven levels, highlighting news and history and their effects on our daily experience with cutting edge technology and interactive exhibits.
At the NBC News Interactive Newsroom, visitors are challenged to meet the deadline with a compelling, accurate report, using touch-screen stations to see what it’s like to be a photographer or reporter on the front lines.
555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001
United States Holocaust Museum
This museum located just off the National Mall honors all those whose lives were forever changed by the Holocaust and encourages visitors to stand up to genocide and hatred today.
In a self-guided, 45-minute-long exhibit called Daniel’s Story, see how one child lived before the Holocaust, read his diaries and learn how he survived in the concentration camp.
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place SW, Washington, DC 20024
National Museum of Crime and Punishment
Guests of all ages will enjoy the interactive Crime Museum’s intense examination of crime in the U.S., from its history to its consequences to the investigation of crimes through forensic science.
Head to the hands-on CSI Lab and you’ll be immersed in a crime scene and given the chance to solve the case like a true detective.
575 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
National Building Museum
What’s been built, how it’s been built and its effect on our culture and society is the focus of the National Building Museum, as it engages guests with the wonders of design and architecture and the work of art that is the museum itself.
Visitors will marvel at the expansive architecture of the Great Hall, with its 75-foot tall Corinthian columns, and families will have a blast at the interactive PLAY WORK BUILD.
401 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
International Spy Museum
The U.S. has only one public museum dedicated to espionage and it resides in DC. Experience the largest collection of spy artifacts ever put on display and must-see exhibits that take you deep into the dangerous world of a spy.
Operation Spy lets you become the secret agent, from passing border patrol to retrieving critical intelligence to escaping from a high-security compound.
800 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
National Geographic Museum
Known for its magazine that makes the world feel a little bit smaller and TV channel that encourages one to “dare to explore,” this worldly museum features rotating exhibitions that are fun for all ages.
The one constant is its National Geographic Museum store, which features Nat Geo-approved travel accessories, books, maps and more.
1145 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
African American Civil War Museum
Lost in much of the history of the Civil War is the role of active African American soldiers. This museum (and its on-site memorial) endeavors to highlight the memory of these soldiers, and their struggle for freedom.
The museum features photographs, documents and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, and it also has authentically made Civil War uniforms that both kids and adults can try on.
1925 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
National Museum of Health & Medicine
The history of this museum dates all the way back to the Civil War, when it was known as the Army Medical Museum. Through exhibits and its collection, the museum portrays the advances of science and medicine in the modern world and on the battlefield.
Given its extensive history, many Civil War-era medical artifacts comprise its collection, inclduing the bullet that killed President Abraham Lincoln, as well as the leg bone of a Civil War general.
2500 Linden Lane, Silver Spring, MD 20910
President Lincoln's Cottage
A cross-town retreat from the White House, Lincoln’s Cottage, a Gothic Revival-style home, serves as the site where President Abraham Lincoln holidayed with family in the summer months and first developed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Today, the cottage hosts public and private tours of the Soldiers’ Home where Lincoln stayed, plus a busy calendar with various programs for families and history buffs alike.
140 Rock Creek Church Road NW, Washington, DC 20011
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
Purchased by Post Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1955 and opened to the public in 1977, the estate is a wonder to behold for numerous reasons: 25 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and woodlands, the most extensive Russian imperial art collection outside of Russia and a renowned collection of 18th century French decorative art.
Popular among visitors are the Fabergé eggs, of which Post collected nearly 90 in total. The eggs are an essential part of Post’s Russian collection.
4155 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Tudor Place Historic House and Garden
Martha Custis Peter, Martha Washington’s granddaughter, had this historic house built in 1816 by Dr. William Thornton, the architect who also built the U.S. Capitol.
In addition to its gardens and home walking tours, Tudor Place has a vast array of artifacts from Martha and George Washington’s personal items, including one of only three surviving letters between George and Martha.
1644 31st Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
Woodrow Wilson House
The only president to make DC his home after a stint in the White House, President Woodrow Wilson moved to this Kalorama neighborhood abode which features a marble entryway, grand staircase and formal garden.
Tour the 28th president’s home any day of the week except Mondays, and enjoy exhibitions and throw-back-the-clock events, such as vintage game night and songs of World War I.
2340 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Set in the heart of Georgetown, Dumbarton House is a prime example of Federal Period architecture, which draws from Ancient Roman architecture with its use of pillars and arches. The home serves as the headquarters of the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America and features a collection of 19th-century paintings, decorative arts and furniture.
Forced to escape the White House from approaching British troops in 1814, then-First Lady Dolley Madison took shelter there before heading to Virginia.
2715 Q Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
This impressive mansion built in the early 1800s was purchased in 1920 by an avid art-collecting couple, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss. It features well-appointed galleries of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art, European works in the Bliss-commissioned Music Room and regular programming.
The exquisite on-site gardens, open mid-March through October, have been showered in praise (in addition to all the water).
1703 32nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
Enter a time warp to the Gilded Age by touring Anderson House, a Beaux Arts-style mansion built for the winter season.The estate, first owned by American diplomat Larz Anderson and wife Isabel in 1905, serves as the headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati, which is committed to preserving the history of America’s War for Independence.
The Andersons’ globe-spanning art collection features many works from Asia, while Society of Cincinnati relics and historic artifacts of the Revolutionary War also are on display.
2118 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008