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Best Local History & Culture in Washington DC

By: Cityseeker
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Renwick Gallery

Designed by architect James Renwick, who also designed the Smithsonian Castle, this gallery was the home of the Corcoran Art Collection until it outgrew the building. Currently, the Renwick is among the foremost craft museums in the country. It includes a full array of the art form, from handwoven rugs to Shaker furniture. The museum shop is a treasure trove of art and books honoring fine craftsmanship. The place reopened in 2015 after undergoing 2 years of renovations.

Washington DC, DC, United States
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Historical Society of Washington DC

Learn more about the fascinating history of the nation's capital at the Historical Society of Washington DC. The Historical Society hosts several temporary exhibits, such as Portraying Lincoln and International Holiday Traditions. Since the exhibits often change, you can find something new here each time you visit. You can also explore the Kiplinger Research Library and find the perfect book.

Washington DC, DC, United States
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Ford's Theatre

An iconic theater, Ford's Theatre is recognized as the place where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14th, 1865. A century later on January 1968, the theater was reopened again for a performance after being under the management of numerous government organizations including the United States Department of War and National Park Service. Also found within the Ford's Theatre is a Lincoln Museum that displays artifacts from the assassination, including the gun Lincoln was shot with. Mementos from Lincoln's life are also on display.

Washington, DC, United States
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Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum takes you on a journey of discovery of iconic American art and the artists that created it from the 17th Century to the present day. The building itself is of heritage value and designated a National Historic Landmark. The expansive collection is spread out over multiple levels and there is a spacious courtyard where you can take a break. Discover the works of Edward Hopper and Georgia O'Keefe on the first floor; the works of Gilbert Stuart and Albert Bierstadt on the second, and Franz Kline and Andy Warhol on the third. Various art movements and periods are well demonstrated in the carefully curated exhibits, like New Deal Art, and provide an engaging narrative for the visitor to follow. Docent-led tours are a great way to discover the highlights in an interactive way. The Renwick Gallery, the main building's sister wing, is also worth a visit.

Washington DC, DC, United States
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National Museum of American History

Take a trip back in time and explore the much celebrated American history at the National Museum of American History. Rich in displays that depict the American journey through the ages; it resides inside a gallery that portrays the emergence of the American national anthem along with other innovative and cherished artifacts. Housed within this multi-floor building are exhibition halls and rooms that illustrate significant events pertaining to the past of America.

Washington DC, DC, United States
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Old Stone House

Tucked into a courtyard in the heart of busy Georgetown, the Old Stone House dates back to 1765. It is believed to be the oldest building in Washington and the only one remaining from the pre-Revolutionary period. The house provides a glimpse of mid-18th century life in a cramped but functional living space. Simple furnishings can be found in most rooms.

Washington DC, DC, United States
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Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument

Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument formerly known as Sewall House till 1929, Alva Belmont House till 1972 and Sewall-Belmont House and Museum till 2016. Built in 1800, it is one of the oldest houses in Capitol Hill. It is dedicated to National Woman's Party leaders Alva Belmont and Alice Paul. Since 1929, it was the headquarters of the Party whose sole focus was engaging in the fight for women's suffrage. It has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark, and later designated as a National Monument by President Barack Obama in 2016.

Washington DC, DC, United States
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Folger Shakespeare Library

Rare books, paintings and other memorabilia, such as musical instruments, costumes and films, make this library and popular research center a treasure trove of valuables worth perusing. Home to a Conservation Lab, Elizabethan-style theater, and the Grand Hall, several special events take place here, including concerts, plays, literary readings and more. The library also boasts the largest collection of Shakespeare materials.

Washington DC, DC, United States
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Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

The Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens is the legacy of Marjorie Merriweather Post, a famous socialite and founder of General Foods. The 40-room mansion dates back to the 1920s and houses a huge collection of art, jewelry and other artifacts that belong to her. View rare Faberge eggs, historic portraits, exquisite tapestries and pieces of china. Walk through the landscaped gardens and enjoy the colorful flowers and plants.

Washington DC, DC, United States
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Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial

Arlington House once belonged to Confederate General Robert E. Lee, whose wife, Mary Custis, a great-granddaughter of George Washington, inherited the home. During the Civil War, Union troops made the house their headquarters. The home is furnished as it was when the Lees raised their seven children here. Park rangers dressed in period costume help dramatize the era. Enjoy a stunning view of Washington from the front of the hillside mansion. As the mansion is located within Arlington National Cemetery, visitors must either walk from the Visitor Center or join the Tourmobile Sightseeing tour of the cemetery.

Fort Myer, VA, United States
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President Lincoln's Cottage

President Abraham Lincoln lived at this charming Gothic Revival cottage, located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, for thirteen months in total during the years of 1862, 1863, and 1864. It was here that he developed the Emancipation Proclamation. The day before his assassination, Lincoln rode out to the cottage before heading back to the White House. Today, the cottage stands as a tribute to the "Great Orator". Guests can visit the cottage by purchasing a ticket for a guided tour of the grounds and building, the entrance is through Eagle Gate of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Keep in mind that it is recommended that you buy your tickets in advance.

Washington DC, DC, United States
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