Some of the most famous museums and galleries in the world fall under the umbrella Smithsonian Museums. Comprised of 9 research facilities and 19 museums including the National Zoo, the Smithsonian Museums cover a wide range of subjects such as cultural history, air and space, American art, and natural history. If possible, try to visit each and every one of these unique museums. You can learn more about them at the Smithsonian Institution Building, aka The Castle, where the Information Center is housed.
Varies by museum
Admission is free
D.C. Metro Area
African American History and Culture Museum (Open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
African Art Museum (Open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
Air and Space Museum (Open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m; may have extended Hours)
Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center (Open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m; may have extended Hours)
America Art Museum (Open 11:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.)
American History Museum (Open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m; may have extended Hours)
American Indian Museum (Open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
Anacostia Community Museum (Open 10 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
Arts and Industries Building (Currently closed for Renovation)
Freer Gallery of Art (Open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
National Zoo (April-October: Open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; November-March: Open 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)
National History Museum (Open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m; may have extended Hours)
All Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC and the National Zoo are free. Tickets are not required. See the Museum Listing for opening and closing times; all Smithsonian Museums are closed on December 25th.
Holidays and Special Events
There are special events at the Smithsonian museums throughout the year, from celebrations like Earth Day to comedy acts that focus on the National Gallery. Around the winter holidays, there are special activities like ZooLights and festivals with an international, multicultural focus, such as Bak’tun at the American Indian Museum. In the spring, celebrate Cinco de Mayo at the Anacostia Community Museum.
Which museum is the most visited?
The most popular museums are the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. Each welcome over 7 million visitors a year.
Which museum is best for kids?
Many of the museums are wonderful for the whole family. Those that are especially great for children include the Butterflies +Plants: Partners in Evolution (Natural History Museum), Butterfly Habitat Garden (Smithsonian Gardens spring-fall), Dinosaurs: Reptiles – Masters of Land (Natural History Museum through Spring 2014 TBA), and the O Orkin Insect Zoo (Natural History Museum).And of course, DC’s youngest visitors should not miss the National Zoo.