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Best Museums in Washington DC

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Step inside this art haven with a collection spanning over 150,000 works. You'll encounter works of art from renowned European masters like Matthias Grünewald, Albrecht Dürer, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Eugène Delacroix, and many others. In addition to that, the gallery also has a beautiful collection of drawings, photographs, paintings, sculptures, medals and art which take you on a journey to the Middle Ages and back to the present. Once you’ve toured the gallery, explore the serene oasis of the Sculpture Garden. Adorned with beautiful sculptures by renowned artists, the garden offers a peaceful space for contemplation and reflection.

President Wilson lived in this Georgian Revival-style house after he left office, creating a comfortable, unpretentious residence with his wife, Edith. It was in this house that Wilson breathed his last in an upstairs bedroom. The couple had collected items from all over the world, filling their home with eclectic wares. The collection spans over 8000 items and gives an insight into Wilson’s presidential legacy. Tours are also available on site and you can avail these to get a close-up view of the unique collection and interesting décor.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum takes you on an inspiring journey, chronicling the discovery and evolution of iconic American art and artists. Exhibiting artworks right from the 17th Century to the present day, the museum boasts of an elaborate and expansive collection. Spread across three levels, the noteworthy exhibits here include the works of Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keefe, Gilbert Stuart, Albert Bierstadt, Franz Kline, Andy Warhol and many others. Depictions of various art movements and periods make for compelling exhibits for the visitors. Docent-led tours offer an interactive way to explore the museum. The Renwick Gallery, the sister wing of the main building, is also a must-visit attraction.

This fascinating museum focuses on the history and culture of African Americans. The exhibits explore African American experiences, including the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, as well as individual lives of the people back then. The museum has over 37,000 unique items, including a trumpet owned by Louis Armstrong and many historic outfits.

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. Visitors also have the option of using the audio-visual aid to understand the technical aspects of the marvelous exhibits. Moreover, the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater located here screens aircraft and space films on a huge 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 one of the popular attractions among the visiting crowds at this world-famous place.

From El Greco's "The Visitation" to Byzantine and pre-Columbian artworks, jewelry and mosaics, Dumbarton Oaks is filled with elegant treasures. Built in 1801, the estate achieved its height of glory in the wealthy 1920s when it served as the high-society showpiece of Robert Bliss and his heiress wife, Mildred. The gardens occupy 10 acres above Georgetown and include terraced lawns, winding footpaths and elaborate fountains.

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.

Take a trip back in time and explore the much celebrated American history at the National Museum of American History. Opened in 1962 as the Museum of History and Technology, it was renamed the National Museum of American History in 1980. Focusing on collecting, preserving, and honoring history, the Museum displays the American journey through the ages; it resides a beautiful 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.

Established in 1910, the National Museum of Natural History aims to inform people about the natural history of the earth through its exhibits. Nestled 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.

Set among the fashionable Foxhall Road estates in upper northwest Washington, the former residence of Carmen and David Kreeger holds a marvelous collection of 19th and 20th-century art. Artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Kandinsky and Rodin are represented, among many other artists. A fine collection of African art is also housed here. The Kreeger Museum's grounds also feature a sculpture garden. However, the museum requires some advance planning to visit since reservations are required to join the docent-led tours, but the effort is well worth it.

As the name suggests, National Museum of Women in the Arts celebrates the creations and achievements of women artists. Since the 1960s, the founder of the museum, Wilhelmina Holladay, collected notable art pieces created by women artists to add to the long list of the museum's exhibits. The museum’s collection boasts of more than thousands of pieces, including one of the earliest works, which is Lavinia Fontana’s Portrait of a Noblewoman, dating back to the 16th Century. By visiting this one-of-a-kind museum, not only does one support and promote the works of women artists, but also enjoys a leisurely day in the midst of creative geniuses.

Using portraits, photographs, and other visual media, the National Portrait Gallery honors America’s famous and distinguished personalities. Right from politicians and artists to scientists and social activists, all shine brightly in the spotlight here. For tourists and locals alike, this gallery represents a remarkable testimony to the diverse figures that the United States has produced. While photographs, prints, drawings, and sculptures supplement the paintings, the Hall of Presidents is a noteworthy feature of the gallery. Interestingly, apart from the White House, this gallery is the only other home to the complete collection of presidential portraits.

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