A town like DC isn’t exactly short on museums, but that doesn’t mean it hurts to be prepared. In fact, the way we see it, when it comes to navigating the culturally-stocked streets of DC, knowledge is power. From tried-and-true favorites to notable newcomers on the scene, here’s your guide to the most trip-worthy museums in all of DC.
American Art Museum
If you want to experience America through art, this is the perfect place to get started. The museum’s collections include mediums that cover the colonial era through modern day, and each piece contributes to the museum’s mission of reflecting the American experience and global connections. Several DC museums focus on art, but this one specializes in works produced exclusively by American artists.
HIGHLIGHTS: Don’t miss The 19th century works that capture America’s landscape, especially Thomas Moran’s The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Nam June Paik’s Electronic Superhighway piece is an electronic representation of the USA and is big part of the contemporary collection.
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
For everyone who once dreamed of going to space, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is here to remind us of the mystery and intrigue that universe still holds. On your next visit, you’ll have a chance to see aircraft and spacecraft and enjoy exhibitions about the origins of flight. The number of hands-on, family-friendly demonstrations is a big plus, not to mention the onsite IMAX theater and planetarium.
HIGHLIGHTS: Check out the Apollo 11 command module from the first moon landing and the original Wright brothers plane from 1903. You’ll also be able to see actual rocks brought back from the moon!
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National Museum of African American History and Culture
It may be one of the city’s newest museums, but it’s also one of the most important. The National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrates the impact the African American community has made on the USA’s history and culture. Focusing on everything from sports to music to slavery to civil rights, the museum beautifully captures the spirit, struggles, and successes of African Americans throughout the country.
HIGHLIGHTS: A shawl belonging to Harriett Tubman, who famously saved dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad, is a must-see artifact. You’ll also see a jersey worn by Michael Jordan and a captivating exhibit dedicated exclusively to musical contributions.
Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Unsurprisingly, this beloved contemporary art museum is a great place to discover new works and concepts. Here, you’ll find much more than paintings on a wall — you’ll find an immersive experience with video, digital, performance, and technological pieces regularly on view. Not to be missed is the outdoor sculpture garden, where more than 60 works are on display year-round.
HIGHLIGHTS: Just outside the museum’s entrance is Jimmie Durham’s Still Life with Spirit and Xitle, a giant boulder crushing a car.
If you’re a fan of modern art, you’ll find plenty to appreciate during your next visit. It’s the perfect place to spot some Renoirs, Matisses, and Picassos in particular! And for those looking to make art a part of their daily routine, The Collection consistently offers a host of exhibitions and events that build community and knowledge at the same time.
HIGHLIGHTS: Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party” is the most famous of the pieces that are part of the collection.
➤ Here are some great DC wine & dine options for your day out: