What Are The 17 Smithsonian Museums: An In-Depth Guide

What Are The 17 Smithsonian Museums: An In-Depth Guide

If you are a tourist or history enthusiast who has not visited the 17 Smithsonian Museums, then you are missing out. The National Mall and Memorial Parks situated in Washington, DC, is nationally renowned for its rich history, numerous national landmarks, and stunning museums. However, with 17 museums, it can be difficult to know which museum to visit first. This blog post covers all the Smithsonian museums, including their specialties, location, and other exciting features you need to know.

What Are The Smithsonian Museums?

The Smithsonian Museums is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex. Established in 1846, it is home to 19 museums and galleries and several research facilities located in different countries worldwide. However, 17 of these museums are situated in the National Mall in Washington D.C, and they are popular tourist destinations, drawing millions of visitors every year.The Smithsonian museums cover various historic events, arts, and sciences, including natural history, art, culture, innovation, air and space, African American culture, and more. What’s more, these museums are open to the public and free of charge.

The 17 Smithsonian Museums: A Brief Overview

1. National Museum of American History – This museum explores American history, including political, cultural, and social aspects. It features exhibitions on the War of Independence, the Civil Rights Movement, and the First Ladies of America, among others.

2. National Museum of African Art – The museum features collections of African traditional and contemporary art, textiles, and jewelry from over 50 African countries, offering an insight into diverse African cultures.

3. Smithsonian American Art Museum – This museum is home to one of America’s largest collections of American art, including sculptures, paintings, and photographs from several artists.

4. National Museum of Air and Space – This museum features history-related to human aviation and spaceflight, with a collection of over 60,000 artifacts from the United States airborne community.

5. National Museum of Natural History – This museum explores the diversity of nature, including human beings, animals, and plant life. It features several permanent exhibitions, including the famous Hope Diamond.

6. National Museum of the American Indian – This museum documents the life and culture of Native Americans, featuring educational exhibits and artifacts of Native American art, history, and culture.

7. National Portrait Gallery – This museum features portraits of influential people across all periods of American history, including presidents, activists, and artists.

8. Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – This museum specializes in modern and contemporary art, featuring an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and other creative artistic works.

9. National Postal Museum – This museum tells the history of the United States Postal Service and stamps through exhibitions displaying post office equipment, artifacts, interactive displays, and more.

10. Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle) – This museum acts as the headquarters of the Institution and features an exhibition that tells the story of the Smithsonian’s creation and the history of its founder.

11. National Museum of Asian Art – This museum features stories and expressions of Asian art, photography, and culture with over 40,000 art pieces from different Asian countries.

12. National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute – This museum features more than 1,500 animals that represent approximately 300 different species, emphasizing conservation research, education, and care.

13. National Museum of African American History and Culture – This museum explores African American history and culture archaeologically, genetically, and culturally to trace the African American experience through interactive displays.

14. National Museum of Women in the Arts – This museum features exhibits showcasing female artists across generations and celebrates women’s contributions to the arts.

15. Arts and Industries Building – This museum has various exhibition spaces that show the accomplishments of America as well as several countries worldwide, from various industries like arts, inventions, and technology.

16. Smithsonian Gardens – This museum is a living museum that tells the story of gardening and ecosystems across the world through various horticultural exhibitions and events.

17. Anacostia Community Museum – This museum features the history and culture of urban communities and their development through various events, exhibitions, and interactive displays.


Frequently Asked Questions about the 17 Smithsonian Museums

Are you planning a trip to Washington, D.C., and curious about what the Smithsonian Museums have to offer? As the world’s largest museum and research complex, the Smithsonian offers a vast array of museums covering a diverse range of topics, from science and technology to art and history. Here are some frequently asked questions to help guide your visit.

What is the Smithsonian?

The Smithsonian Institution was established in 1846 and named after its benefactor, British scientist James Smithson. It is a research institute and museum complex comprised of 19 museums, galleries, and research centers, and the National Zoo, all located in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

How many Smithsonian Museums are there?

There are 17 Smithsonian Museums located in Washington D.C., with the remaining two being located in New York City.

What are the names of the 17 Smithsonian Museums?

The 17 Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C. are:

  1. African American History and Culture Museum
  2. African Art Museum
  3. Air and Space Museum
  4. Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center
  5. American Art Museum
  6. American History Museum
  7. American Indian Museum
  8. Anacostia Community Museum
  9. Arts and Industries Building
  10. Frehlinghuysen Morris House and Studio
  11. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  12. National Zoo
  13. National Postal Museum
  14. National Portrait Gallery
  15. National Museum of Natural History
  16. National Museum of African Art
  17. Sackler Gallery

The two Smithsonian Museums located in New York City are the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian, both of which are part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Do I need to pay to visit Smithsonian Museums?

No, all Smithsonian Museums are free to visit!

What are the most popular Smithsonian Museums?

The most popular Smithsonian Museums are the National Museum of Natural History, Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, and African American History and Culture Museum.

What are some must-see exhibits or artifacts?

The exhibits and artifacts that are considered must-sees may vary based on personal interests, but some of the Smithsonian’s most famous artifacts and exhibits include the Hope Diamond, the Wright Brothers’ plane, the original Star-Spangled Banner, the Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz, and the Apollo 11 Command Module.

What are the best ways to navigate the Smithsonian Museums?

One way to navigate the Smithsonian Museums is to plan your visit in advance and focus on specific museums or exhibits that you want to see. It may be helpful to download a museum map or use a navigation app on your phone. Additionally, many of the museums offer guided tours or audio guides, which can provide context and additional information on the exhibits.

How long does it take to visit all the Smithsonian Museums?

The amount of time it takes to visit all the Smithsonian Museums may vary based on individual interests, but it would likely take several days to fully explore all of the museums and experience their exhibitions and programming.

What are the operating hours of the Smithsonian Museums?

Most Smithsonian Museums are open every day of the year except for Christmas Day, with varying hours of operation. It is best to check the museum’s website for current hours before planning your visit.In conclusion, the Smithsonian Museums offer a vast array of exhibits and resources that are sure to appeal to visitors of all ages and interests. By planning ahead and utilizing the free resources available through each museum, visitors can make the most out of their visit to these world-renowned institutions.

How to Explore the 17 Smithsonian Museums

The Smithsonian Museums are renowned for their incredible collections and exhibits that showcase the rich history and culture of the United States. With 17 museums and galleries, as well as the National Zoo, located in Washington D.C. and New York City, it can be overwhelming to decide on a plan of action for exploring these institutions. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make the most of your visit to the Smithsonian Museums.

Step 1: Decide Which Smithsonian Museums to Visit

There are 17 Smithsonian Museums and they all offer unique experiences. You should consider the interests of you and your travel buddies, as well as the types of exhibits that each museum offers. Here is a brief description of each museum:

1. National Museum of African American History and Culture
2. National Air and Space Museum
3. Smithsonian American Art Museum
4. National Museum of American History
5. National Museum of the American Indian
6. National Postal Museum
7. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
8. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
9. National Portrait Gallery
10. Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle)
11. National Museum of Natural History
12. National Zoo
13. Anacostia Community Museum
14. Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
15. National Museum of Asian Art
16. National Museum of African Art
17. Renwick Gallery

Step 2: Plan Your Trip in Advance

Once you’ve decided which museums to visit, it’s important to plan your trip in advance. This will save you time, and ensure that you get to see everything you want to see.Firstly, check the hours of operation on the Smithsonian Museums website. Most museums are open every day of the year except December 25th, which is the only day the Smithsonian museums close. The hours differ by museum, so be sure to double-check.Secondly, consider purchasing the Smithsonian Institution Explorer Pass. This pass grants you access to all the Smithsonian museums and is valid for one year. This is a great choice if you plan to visit multiple museums or galleries.

Step 3: Learn about Exhibits in each Museum

To make the most out of your visit, it’s important to research the exhibits that each museum offers in advance. This way, you can have a better understanding of what each museum is about, and prioritize which exhibits you’d like to see.On each museum’s website, you can find a list of current and upcoming exhibitions. Pay attention to special exhibits and programming that may be available during your visit. Some of the museum’s most famous exhibits include the Hope Diamond at the National Museum of Natural History, the Star-Spangled Banner at the National Museum of American History, and of course the Wright Brothers Flyer at the National Air and Space Museum.

Step 4: Make a Plan

With so many Smithsonian museums to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Consider choosing two or three museums to visit per day, and try to prioritize the exhibits that are at the top of your list. There are plenty of free maps available at the museum’s entrances, take a few minutes to study them and make sure that you can figure out the best way to navigate from exhibit to exhibit.Consider starting your day at the National Mall, where many of the Smithsonian museums are located. You can use the Metro transit system to get to the museums, which is a great way to avoid traffic and parking issues.

Step 5: Enjoy Your Visit

One of the best things about the Smithsonian museums is that they are all free to the public. There is no need to rush your visit, so take your time and enjoy everything that is offered. Be sure to check out the gift shops and cafes in each museum, they offer unique souvenirs and delicious meals.In conclusion, visiting Smithsonian museums can be a truly remarkable experience if you plan well and take your time. With a bit of research and pre-planning, you can create an itinerary that allows you to see the exhibits that interest you the most. Remember that you don’t need to see every museum in one day. Take your time, enjoy your visit, and draw inspiration from the vast array of exhibits on display.

What Are The 17 Smithsonian Museums: An In-Depth Guide