The Smithsonian Institution is the largest museums and research complex in the world, owning 19 world-renowned museums, galleries and zoos. The name of the institution derives from its founder James Smithson (1765-1829), an English chemist and mineralogist. Each museum guides its visitors to the discovery of the most fascinating aspects of our world, from history, to nature, science, or art… And the admission is free for everybody! Here we have listed our top 5 museums/galleries of the Smithsonian Collection.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a national museum dedicated only to African American life, history, and culture. There, visitors can learn about the richness of the African American heritage and its important contribution to the US.
The museum opened to the public in September 2016 and it is the newest museum of the Smithsonian collection. Today, it houses more than 36,000 artifacts and has almost 100,000 members.
Where: 1400 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
This museum has two locations: one in Washington D.C., and another one by the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport.
The National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. houses many different objects, including the 1903 Wright Flyer and Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center displays hundreds of historically significant aircrafts and spacecraft, and thousands of artifacts. The collection is located in an open setting. Another interesting part of the museum is the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar: here, visitors can watch how artifacts are restored.
- 655 Jefferson Drive, SW, Washington, DC 20560
- 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA
The National Portrait Gallery opened to the public in 1968 and is housed in the Old Patent Office Building in Washington D.C. Through the use of visual arts, performing arts, and new media, the collection focuses on famous American people who have contributed to the country’s history. Thanks to the exposition, visitors can learn about the biography of presidents, poets, activists, actors, writers and other Americans from precolonial times to the present day.
Where: 8th and G Streets, NW, Washington, DC
The National Museum of Natural History enables visitors to connect science with everyday experiences. It is dedicated to understanding the natural world and the place that humans held in it. Recognized as the world’s largest natural history collection, the museum displays more than 145 million specimens and artifacts, each one reflecting a different time period. Throughout the exposition, visitors are able to learn about the story of planet Earth, from the very beginning to present times.
Where: 10th St. and Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC
The National Museum of the American Indian is a diverse cultural and educational institution which houses a broad collection of objects, photographs, and media related to the Western Hemisphere. The museum has three venues.
The Washington D.C. venue has a curvilinear architecture and houses art exhibitions designed in collaboration with tribes and communities. It includes art galleries, spaces to host performances and lectures, and areas dedicated to research and educational activities.
The second venue is the George Gustav Heye Center, located in New York City. The center houses exhibitions, research, educational activities, and performing arts programs.
The third facility is the Cultural Resources Center. It is located in Suitland, Maryland, and it includes art collections, research facilities, as well as the conservation, repatriation, and digital imaging programs.
- 1st venue: 4th Street and Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC
- 2nd venue: Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, One Bowling Green, New York, NY
- 3rd venue: 4220 Silver Hill Rd, Hillcrest Heights, MD 20746
For a complete list of all museums, gardens, and zoos of the Smithsonian Institution, visit the official website.