The National Gallery houses an extensive collection of European and American art in two spectacular buildings. In the grand, neoclassical West Building, Rembrandt, Rubens and Gainsborough are well-represented. The permanent collection includes works from the 13th to 20th Centuries, including a section devoted to Impressionism. An underground concourse with a cafeteria, an excellent gift shop and a walled-in waterfall takes you to the East Building. Designed by I.M. Pei, this triangular building is a key city landmark and home to famous pieces of art and other temporary exhibitions.
Established in 1910, the National Museum of Natural History aims to inform people about the natural history of earth through its exhibits. Nestled somewhere within this museum is the famous Hope Diamond, which has gained notoriety for supposedly carrying a curse. Apart from that, some of the museum's popular galleries include The Discovery Room, Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals, Dinosaurs/Hall of Paleobiology, Insect Zoo, Teleology: Hall of Bones, Ocean Hall, Hall of Human Origins and many more.
Visitors should come prepared for an experience they're to forget when visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. At the start of the tour, each visitor is given an identity card of a Holocaust victim that matches the visitor's own age and gender. Ordinary reality is skewed through off-center stairways, weird angles and the shadows of other visitors on the glass walkways overhead. An elaborate audio-visual display includes interviews, films and photographs. The Hall of Remembrance provides a calm, empty space at the end of the tour where one can reflect on the experience. The museum discourages children under 11 from attending. Admission to the museum is free. However, from March through August a free pass is required to enter the Permanent Exhibition. Passes are not required to gain entrance to the museum building, or to go to any of the smaller exhibitions, memorials, or special programming.
Dating back to 1946, the National Air and Space Museum is home to quite a few aircraft that narrate fascinating stories. Everything from the iconic Wright Brothers' Flyer and Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis to World War II planes and Apollo 11 is displayed here, attracting history aficionados, science buffs and aviation fans alike. you also have the option of using the audio-visual aid to understand the technical aspects. Also found here is the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater where you can marvel at aircraft and space films on the five-story screen. Apart from that, the National Air and Space Museum also has the original Star Trek model of the USS Enterprise on display, which is a special attraction.
An iconic theatre, 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 theatre 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. Across the street is Petersen House, the place where Lincoln died.
The eight-sided, 19th-century home of John Tayloe III, a wealthy contemporary of early US presidents, offers an interesting glimpse into both history and architecture. President Madison resided here after the White House was burned in the War of 1812. The Treaty of Ghent was signed in the Octagon's study at the war's end. Architectural exhibits are integrated into the fine house with its period furnishings. The building itself is a masterpiece, designed by William Thornton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol and other high points of Federal-era Washington.
Run by the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR Museum focuses on the culture and history of everyday life in the United States before 1830. It recreates whole rooms from specific time periods in different regions. A room from an adobe house contrasts the many colonial examples and the attic, filled with toys and dolls of long ago, is a hit with children. Also popular with children are the free 'Colonial Adventure' tours, held on the first and third Sundays of each month. A costumed guide explains the exhibits. Don't forget to explore the genealogical library.
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.