“The Arts and Industries Building has a special role among Smithsonian buildings as the first United States National Museum opened in 1881. After being closed for nearly 12 years, the Arts and Industries Building reopened for special events fall of 2015 and has hosted several activities, including the 2016 Folklife Festival Marketplace and the Asian Pacific American Center’s ‘Crosslines Culture Lab.’” Free admission.
View exhibits that follow Lincoln from the beginning of his presidency to the moment he arrived in Ford’s Theatre, including artifacts related to the assassination. Step foot in the actual theater with a guided tour. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Field trips available, with group discounts.
“The Smithsonian Institution has two museums of Asian art: the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The Freer Gallery houses one of the premier collections of Asian art, with objects dating from Neolithic times to the early 20th century, as well as the world’s most important collection of works by James McNeill Whistler.” Free admission.
“The world’s most popular natural history museum is dedicated to understanding the natural world and our place in it. Delve into the fascinating story of our planet, from its fiery beginnings through billions of years of transformation, and explore life on Earth through exhibitions and activities, collection objects and research that happens in the lab and in the field. The museum is larger than 18 football fields and is home to the largest natural history collection in the world.” Free admission. Field trips available.
“All is not what it seems. At the International Spy Museum, there’s something for the spy in all of us.
Gain access to the world’s largest collection of international espionage artifacts. Through interactive exhibits with state-of-the-art audiovisual effects, film and hands-on components, the International Spy Museum traces the evolution of espionage through the people who practice the profession and provides a context for guests to interpret the role intelligence plays in current events. The Museum’s permanent exhibition presents the tradecraft of espionage and showcases the ingenuity and imagination of real-life spies and spymasters.”
Discounts available for local residents. Free for Washington, D.C. schools. Groups discounts and field trips available.
“The National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA showcases historic aviation and space artifacts. Highlights include a Concorde, the B-29 Enola Gay, and Space Shuttle Enterprise. Observation tower. IMAX movies, flight simulators. Open 10 am – 5:30 pm except Dec. 25. Museum admission free; parking available (fee).” Field trips are available.
“The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts. Nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members of the museum. It is the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.” Admission is free but advanced tickets are required.
“The National Museum of the American Indian cares for one of the world’s most expansive collections of Native objects, photographs, and media, covering the entire Western Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. The museum’s sweeping curvilinear architecture, its indigenous landscaping, and its exhibitions, all designed in collaboration with tribes and communities, combine to give visitors from around the world the sense and spirit of Native America.” (website) Free admission.
Enjoy thousands of exotic animals, educational animal demonstrations, the Asia Trail (where our giant pandas live!), and many other exhibits. Open daily except Dec. 25. Call for hours: 202-633-1000. Free admission. Guided tours by appointment
“The Rock Creek Park Nature Center serves as the park’s visitor center and offers hiking information, brochures and maps, a bookstore, exhibits on area plants and animals, and has the only planetarium in the National Park Service. Many of the park’s ranger-led programs start or take place at the Nature Center.
The facility includes a children’s Discovery Room offering environmental education books and games and a “Discover Rock Creek” bilingual (Spanish and English) exhibit geared for middle school audiences. The Nature Center also includes live turtles, fish, snakes, an active beehive, a bird observation deck, and “water-wise” garden.
A one-half mile self-guiding interpretive trail, the Woodland Trail, begins behind the Nature Center, while a one-fourth mile wheelchair-accessible Edge of the Woods trail begins right out the front door. The Nature Center is wheelchair-accessible.”
“As a vital and vibrant part of the Smithsonian experience, we engage, people with plants and gardens, inform on the roles both play in our cultural and natural worlds, and inspire appreciation and stewardship. Established in 1972 to manage the museum grounds, Smithsonian Gardens extends the Smithsonian’s museum experience in a public garden setting, inspiring visitors with exceptional displays and educating them about horticulture, plants, the natural and built environments, and artistic design.” Free admission. Educational packages available.
“Watch stunning IMAX® films on six-story screens and planetarium shows on a 77 foot digital dome theater! Enjoy immersive 2D and 3D content at the National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum, and Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.” Discounts available for groups 10+.
“Completed in 1855, the Castle is [their] signature building and home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center. As such, it makes a great starting point for your journey—here you can get a grasp of the scope and scale of the Smithsonian, see collections highlights from each of our museums, tour the Castle’s 19th-century architecture, see what’s going on today at all the museums, and consult with our in-house experts about what to see and do.” Free admission
Learn about history and become a Junior Ranger! This free program provided by the National Park Service is available to kids of all ages. Mail or turn in the completed booklet to receive your own Junior Ranger badge. Additional Badges can be earned at Ford’s Theatre, Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument, as well as at other locations.