National Museum of American History
National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History

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1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington DC, 20560

The basics

One of the 19 free museums that make up the Smithsonian Institute, flanked by the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History is an essential destination for local and visiting history buffs. Spanning 300,000 square feet (28,000 square meters) of exhibition and public space across its East and West Wings, the museum’s wide-ranging temporary and permanent exhibitions showcase artifacts and topics that span the length of American history.

From Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to the red shoes Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz, the multilayered collection is worth lingering over. The museum is featured on a number of hop-on hop-off bus tours and Segway tours, while private and small-group collection tours make exploring personal.

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Things to know before you go

  • Entry to the National Museum of American History, like all of Washington DC’s Smithsonian museums, is free.

  • There are two cafés and two gift shops at the museum, plus free Wi-Fi.

  • All levels of the museum, restrooms, and water fountains are accessible by wheelchair. A limited number of wheelchairs are available free of charge.

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How to get there

The museum is located on the National Mall at Constitution Avenue, N.W., between 12th and 14th Streets, near the Smithsonian subway station (Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines) and the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter station (Green and Yellow Lines), as well as several bus lines. The Washington DC Circulator shuttle also links it with other stops along the National Mall.

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When to get there

The National Museum of American History is open daily (except on Christmas Day), from morning until early evening. Summer and school holidays are particularly popular visiting times, so aim for off-hours to avoid the crowds.

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Collection highlights

Given the museum’s expansive collection, it can be hard to know what to see first. Some of the most popular displays include the Batmobile, the collection of First Ladies’ dresses, a uniform once worn by George Washington, and Julia Child’s kitchen.

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