African American Civil War Museum
1200 U Street , NW
The African American Civil War Museum and Memorial are the first and only national museum and memorials for the colored troops of the Civil War. The monument, located by the U Street / Cardozo metro station, was designed by sculptor Ed Hamilton. The plaza includes a bronze sculpture, an arc of benches, and a wall with the names of over 200,000 African American Civil War soldiers. Museum exhibits and lectures explore the contributions and role of African Americans in the war.
Anacostia Art Gallery and Boutique
2806 Bruce Pl , SE
This Anacotia gallery run by Juanita Carol Britton, or "Busy Bee," showcases the work of local artists alongside international collections. The gallery works to particularly hard to highlight artists from the community, although it also showcases traditional African artwork. The gallery occupies the former residence of the owner, and the space itself is decorated as a work of art.
Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture
1901 Fort Place , SE
The Anacostia Museum is small but is a Smithsonian museum, so its exhibits are high quality. It is dedicated to African-American history and largely focuses on Washington, DC. Visiting this museum is a great way to learn more about the city. It features a few exhibits at a time, which you can view in about an hour. The active education department hosts a variety of lectures, workshops, films, and discussions related to current exhibitions, expanding the connection between the neighborhood and museum.
Anderson House, Society of the Cincinnati Headquarters
2118 Massachusettts Avenue , NW
This often overlooked house museum is a fabulous Italianate mansion from the Gilded Age built for Larz and Isabel Anderson, the grandest of DC's elite party-givers in the early 1900s. Isabel was, in her day, the richest American alive. She married Larz, who descended from a Revolutionary War officer. The two never had children, so they bequeated everything to the Society of the Cincinnati. Now free tours show off substantial marble (18 different colors of marble!), the 2 story-high ballroom, and
their extensive collection of Asian art (the Anderson's were among the first
Westerners to travel to Tibet). There are also paintings by such American masters
as Gilbert Stuart, John Trumbull and George Catlin.
406 7th Street , NW
The Artists' Museum was created as an alternative art gallery to help fill the needs of local artists. The museum is a rental exhibition space, and so the quality of work is dependent on the artists themselves rather than a curator. Reflecting the diversity of local artists and collectors, recent shows have been quite diverse including exhibitions from all over the world.
400 Seventh Street , NW
The Bead Museum is operated by the Bead Society of Greater Washington. The museum and society are dedicated to the understanding of beads. They work to foster an aesthetic appreciation of the objects as well as offering academic research about the role of beads across a multitude of cultures. They not only host beautiful exhibits but also sponsor lectures, meetings, and workshops. They offer educational outreach to local schools and youth groups. Their library contains thousands of volumes focused on beads.
Black Fashion Museum
2007 Vermont Avenue , NW
Founded in 1979, The Black Fashion Museum is a non-profit cultural institution that serves as a repository for antique and recent garments that have been designed, made, and or worn by people of color. The museum hosts exhibits and creates traveling ones. It is open by appointment only, so call 202-667-0744 before visiting.
801 K Street , NW
Run by the well-respected Historical Society of DC, the City Museum was the only museum dedicated exclusively to the history and culture of the city. It was everything we would like our-dc to be, but packaged as a museum. Unfortunately, the museum did not achieve high attendance in its brief time open, and no longer holds public exhibitions. In the main lobby, a bookshop focused on DC continues to operate, and upstairs continues to house a study library that is open to the public where you can learn all about the city's history from original documents. The space is also available for special events.
Frederick Douglass National Historical Site
1411 W Street , SE
From 1877 to his death in 1895, abolitionist Frederick Douglass lived in a Gothic Revival house atop a hill in Anacostia. You can go on a guided tour of this painstakingly preserved house and get a glimpse of Douglass' homelife--his desk, his bedroom, and even clothes irons. Standing in the property's front yard, you can see the rest of DC spread out before you across the Potomac. A bookstore at the site sells Douglass' writings and shows a short film on his life (somewhat spooky, the store also includes his death mask).
Hillwood Museum and Gardens
4155 Linnean Avenue , NW
Hillwood comprises a museum of decorative arts surrounded by urban gardens. The focus of the museum is the most comprehensive collection of 18th- and 19th-century Russian imperial art outside of Russia. The museum collection also spans a variety of decorative arts, glassware, metalwork, and textiles. The twenty-five acres of gardens boast orchid and azalea gardens and range from themed gardens from French to Japanese. Reservations are required, so plan ahead.
2401 Foxhall Road , NW
The Kreeger Museum began as a residence designed by Philip Johnson for top quality art collectors. The estate was converted into a museum, making the collection available to the public in 1994. The art spans several styles from the last 150 years, from Impressionist to Pop, with a small African Art collection included as well. The art work and the high design of the house are each worth visiting in their own right. Plan ahead though, the museum can only be visited during a reserved tour.
Marian Koshland Science Museum
6th and E Streets , NW
This science museum seeks to make science accessible to curious adults and teenagers. While a permanent exhibit explicates the basics of science and scientific research, rotating exhibits focus on scientific issues that are most relevant to ongoing policy debates. The museum also hosts a variety of events from lectures to informative beer tastings.
National Children's Museum
The Children's Museum is an educational party for kids. Closed until 2008, the museum is reinventing itself as the National, rather than Capital, Children's Museum and is relocating to the old EPA building in Southwest. In the past, the museum was filled with interactive exhibits that encourage touching, playing, and exploring. For decades after their first visit, everyone seemed to remember making a tortilla in the Mexico exhibit. The new Children's museum should have similarly exciting exhibits for future generations of patrons.
National Geographic Explorers Hall
17th & M Streets , NW
Explorers Hall is a small museum host to a few rotating exhibits. The hall provides interactive programs and displays that reflect the high quality of National Geographic. The exhibits highlight international cultures, people, and geography.
National Museum of American Jewish Military History
1811 R Street , NW
The NMAJMH strives to document the contributions of American Jews to the armed forces. The exhibits range from an overview of Jews in the military to detailing the life and work of Major General Julius Klein. The museum includes a study, chapel, and hall of heroes.
National Museum of Health and Medicine
6900 Georgia Ave , NW
This museum has existed in several incarnations since 1862. Now, the museum housed at Walter Reed has collections ranging from historical artifacts to freakish human anatomy. This is probably the only place that you can see so many medical wonders collected together. This museum is fascinating, but definitely not for the timid. Be sure you're prepared to see some vivid objects before wandering into the Museum of Health and Medicine.
Naval Historical Center
805 Kidder Breese, Washington Navy Yard Building 76 , SE
The Naval Museum is the only one in the country to provide an overview of U.S. naval history. It not only commemorates the wartime exploits of the Navy, but also highlights the contributions that the Navy made to navigation and diplomacy in times of peace. Permanent exhibits explore submarines, navigation, the Spanish-American war, and the forgotten wars of the 19th century, among other events. These exhibits are supplemented by rotating shows.
It's also worth visiting the building itself - the museum is located in a building from the late 1800s. Visitors must call the museum one day in advance.
Pope John Paul II Cultural Center
3900 Harewood Road , NE
The Cultural Center incorporates three major entities. It is an interactive museum featuring modern technology that challenges the visitor to explore their faith and to interact with others in a dialogue about faith. It is an art museum featuring changing art exhibits from the Vatican Museums, as well as other art exhibits. It is, also, a place of scholarly research, exploring the concepts in Catholic thought that have been laid out by Pope John Paul II. The museum has both traditional exhibits and interactive multimedia exhibits that invite visitors to be hands on during their visit. The Cultural Center celebrates faith and culture through rotating exhibits,
performances and family events.
Squished Penny Museum
416 T Street , NW
This wacky Americana museum is located in the living room of a row house in Ledroit Park. The SPM is devoted exclusively to squished pennies (not squashed, please), and its whole collection is worth only about $40. The ongoing exhibit, "The Open Road: Touring America Today," features 250 pennies and other materials from tourist sites across the US. The SPM loves visitors, but you must have an appointment first! Call 202-986-5644 for details.