A Guide to the Museums & Monuments in​ ​Washington DC

SEVENTY-NINE. 79. That’s approximately how many museums can be found in Washington DC. I certainly have not had the opportunity to discover all of these buildings, not even close. I have been to some and a few of these I highly recommend you visit while in DC. I’ve compiled a list of SOME information about SOME of the museums to help you decide which museums spark your interest and you want to discover more. 

Guide to Museums & Monuments in DC | Chasing Krista | Washington DC, USA

Is it important to realize that Washington DC is not only home to 17 out of 19 of the Smithsonian museums but filled with smaller, lesser-known museums and monuments throughout the city.

Map of the National Mall:

Guide to Museums & Monuments in DC | Chasing Krista | Washington DC, USA

Smithsonian Museums:

Guide to Museums & Monuments in DC | Chasing Krista | Washington DC, USA



  • National Gallery of Art 
  • Hirschhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden 
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Renwick Gallery 
  • American Art Museum 
  • National Museum of African Art
  • Art Museum of the America’s 

Gardens & Zoo’s 

  • National Zoo
  • National Arboretum 
  • The US. Botanical Garden 

Cultural & History Museums

  • African American Civil War Memorial Museum 
  • Ford’s Theater
  • National Postal Museum 
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • National Museum of American History
  • Natural History Museum
  • Air & Space Museum
  • Smithsonian Castle

Public Buildings:

  • Library of Congress
  • Supreme Court
  • Shakespeare’s Library 
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing






  • Lincoln Memorial 
  • FDR Memorial 
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial 
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial 
  • Washington Monument
  • National WWII Memorial 
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial 
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial  





There are a total of 19 Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries, two located in New York and the rest located in the nation’s capital: Washington DC. 

History of the Smithsonian

Guide to Museums & Monuments in DC | Chasing Krista | Washington DC, USA

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest collection of knowledge. Designed and created to preserve our history and educate curious minds of the present.  James Smithson, an English scientist  founded the Smithsonian Institution in 1846 with a goal of “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”  All of the museums under the umbrella of the Smithsonian’s name are free to the public and attract over thirty million curious minds every year. 

Guide to Museums & Monuments in DC | Chasing Krista | Washington DC, USA

The Castle otherwise known as the Smithsonian Institution Building was the first of the collection, designed by one of New York’s finest architect and “one of the most successful American architects of his time”, James Renwick Jr. Located here are the administrative offices and information/visitor center, this is the perfect place to start your Smithsonian journey. The volunteers are equipped with personal knowledge to answer all your questions. 


National Zoological Park (National Zoo) is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. Its mission is to “provide engaging experiences with animals and create and share knowledge to save wildlife and habitats.”  FREE to enter and wander around, learning about all the animals we share this planet with. 

*insert picture of National Zoo*

National Museum of Natural History. Personally, one of my favorite museums because I love history and microbes and a proud nerd because learning is cool. This museum could easily take the whole day. This museum has a number of permanent exhibits, new exhibits and rotating exhibits throughout the year.  Starting on the Ground Floor: Birds of DC. First Floor: African Voice, Human Origins, Mammals, Ocean Hall. Second Floor: The Hope Diamond, Gems & Minerals, Insect Moon, Bones. Check the website to see which exhibits are going to be on display during your stay.

A Week in the US Capital | Chasing Krista | Washington DC, USA

National Museum of American History. The heritage, past, and history of the United States of America, in every aspect of life. Socially. Culturally. Politically. Scientifically.

National Portrait Gallery. A gallery of faces (if you will). Faces ranging from celebrities to political powers, to your average citizens. This gallery brings you “face to face with America.”

American Art Museum & Renwick Gallery is dedicated to the arts and decorative styles of the 19th through the 21st century. This museum showcases a number of talented and expressionist artists from around the world throughout the times. These two museums combined are home to the largest & most inclusive collections of art found in America.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Contemporary art of all sorts.

The National Air and Space Museum. A tribute to air and space exploration. From the history of flight and the first aircraft to Apollo 11 and the Mars Rover to today’s space exploration and tomorrow’s discoveries and inventions. Inside the museum, you have the opportunity to see an IMAX show that will blow your mind! Book in advance!




National Museum of African Art, the only in the world dedicated to the preservation, acknowledgment, study, and collection of Africa art.

Guide to Museums & Monuments in DC | Chasing Krista | Washington DC, USA

National Postal Museum, if you love stamps and mail as much as I do, then you’ll love this museum, dedicated to the history and preservation of postal history and philately (the study of stamps).

National Museum of the American Indian is committed to the advancement and acknowledgment of Native America’s in the Western Hemisphere and gaining a better understanding and education of their culture, history, and lifestyle.

National Museum of African American History and Culture. This is the newest museum to DC. A glimpse through the history of slavery, the civil rights movement, pop culture to today’s society. The museum is free to enter but does require a ticket and its popularity has continued to rise since opening day. Make sure you get tickets in advance.

All of these museums listed above are FREE. Check their websites to see which exhibits are displaying.  Get ready to learn, walk, come fully fed, batteries charged and questions about anything and everything brewing.


Remember, check the sites. Book your tickets in advance (if need be), don’t bring outside food in, bring cash and take photos! But most importantly, stay curious! 

Guide to Museums & Monuments in DC  | Chasing Krista | Washington DC, USA

guide m&m DC

4 Replies to “A Guide to the Museums & Monuments in​ ​Washington DC”

  1. I love Washington DC too! I thought I saw quite a bit when I went but after looking at your 7 day itinerary I realized I still missed quite a bit!


  2. The Renwick Gallery is my absolute favorite, they had a Burning Man exhibit the last time I was there (not sure if they’ve switched it out). I loved how it was a totally different set of artwork from the first time I visited maybe a year prior. This list is very comprehensive and DC is definitely perfect for all museum lovers!


  3. WOW its lucky 79! That’s a lot to visit and I think it will take me a week to over them all. It would be nice to have an exclusive Washington DC museum and park tour, and this is very educational and not hurting your pocket.


Comments are closed.