Visiting 7 National Museums on the Mall in a day – DC Day 2

Today was dedicated to the museums of DC, a lot of the free to visit Smitsonian museums are on the National Mall, one of the others being the National Portrait Gallery which I visited yesterday. I have never seen so many museums in one space and all lined up next to each other, it is quite unique but I loved it so much and the impressive buildings create stunning backdrops.

The plan was to start at the Washington Monument in the centre of the Mall and work my way east to the Capitol building so the first stop was the National Holocaust Museum. As you would expect it was a sombre experience, the real items, photos and stories really touched the heart. The entrance divided the group into seperate elevators depending on your gender and explained what the unfortunate went through. As you made your way through the exhibits, headphones told stories whilst there was a memorial at the corner of the museum where you could remember and look back. The moving experience of these type of museums are so precious, they allow you to really understand what happened and put everything into perspective.

Next was the newest museum on the Mall which only opened in 2016 and it’s modern building shows that. This was the National Museum of African American History & Culture and it gets incredibly busy between March & August so ensure you get a timed pass for entry if you are visiting during this peak period. There are such a wealth of topics covered in here from politics to athletics and slavery to music, it is an extraordinary place where some areas are quite upsetting but some give great hope and happiness. I would recommend taking a moment to sit in the Contemplative Court at the end of the museum where a circular waterfall rains into the center of the room with surrounding quotes on the walls, a nice relaxing place for reflection of the museum.

The third stop was the National Museum of American History which was a different more modern history museum experience for me compared to the hundreds of years old artifacts I experience in the British ones. Nonetheless, I loved how there was such a range of vibrant exhibits covering all sorts and details such as all the different types of coffee cup lids! The transport section was particularly enjoyable for me as I love the styles of the trams and trains that were used in America in then 19th century. The original star spangled banner (the flag that inspired America’s national anthem) is what stands out here though, protected in a covered dark room to keep away dust and damage.

Next door the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History had a very different feel to it, the grand architecture provided an impressive background for a huge collection which I certainly needed more time to delve into. The rooms I did visit were some of the best displays I have seen, the human evolution area fascinated me, it is particularly interesting and slightly odd to see our closest species in the form of Neanderthal’s and Homo sapiens. Next I crossed the Mall to the oldest building on the Mall and home of Smithsonian to visit the Institution building also known as the castle. It is a great place to start, especially if you ware new in Washington wanting to discover which museums appeal to you or just to explore the 19th century architecture. On my visit, a robot was wandering around which responding to peoples questions plus gave us a little dance, a sneaky look at the future of tour guides maybe!

One of my favourite type of museums to visit are aviation museums and the National Air & Space Museum didn’t let me down. The large open foyer area is filled with aircraft’s hanging from the ceiling plus there is loads happening with simulators to ride and regular science demonstrations. The museum holds many iconic spacecrafts and accessories including a wonderful exhibition on the Wright flyer, one of the world’s first successful flights as well as Neill Armstrong’s actual space suit from the moon landing.

By this point, my legs were feeling the pain from walking the many floors and stairs of all the museums but I was focused on fitting in at least 1 more stop. So I continued to the National Gallery of Art for a quick wander, though modern art is more my thing so you can nicely get to the modern collection in the East wing via a very cool and brightly lit subway bypassing the road.

Closing time came so that was the end of my tour around pretty much as many museums as I could! I stopped for a well-earned rest on the beautiful mall gardens opposite the Capitol Building with views of the museums and the monument ahead. I am a great fan of open green spaces in big cities so Washington certainly ticked that box for me. Once re-energized I got closer to the Capitol and wandered around the perimeter to finish the day.

 

The visits to each museum got shorter and shorter as time went on as I packed so much into my day, I could have easily spent a whole afternoon in each one. Though I was happy that I saw the highlights of each museum in this short stay in DC, it was also a great bonus that nearly all of the Smithsonian Museums are free entry. There are many more free museums on the mall and around the centre that I didn’t get to, this is just a taste really, but it really shows the abundance of attractions and culture in the city. Overall DC really impressed me, it felt slightly quiet for a capital city in August but this just made it more enjoyable and relaxing for me, I would love to return to explore the museums in more detail some day and see more of the capital.

Related

What I did in my 3 days in New York City

My Disney Cultural Exchange Program Experience

Traveler’s List to keep Entertained at Home

19 thoughts on “Visiting 7 National Museums on the Mall in a day – DC Day 2

  1. This post is going to be so helpful when I visit DC. I have heard that there are amazing and so many museums and art galleries in Washington and New York. I really want to dive into the museums when I get there. I found you on Instagram and saw your lovely travel pictures. They are so amazing. I then came back to read your Disney experience. That is one place I would love to spend my entire week in. I am a big Disney fan. You have a great Insta feed and a lovely blog.

    Best wishes from The Strong Traveller and have a great day.

    Do have a look at my blog whenever you find the time. There are some travel and lifestyle content which you may find interesting. Your thoughts will surely be very valuable. Stay connected. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow I didn’t know there were that many options! That must have been a crazy day, but I totally understand the making the best of your limited time. Great job with your descriptions and photos 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooh! It is great that you visited 7 different national museums in one day! So cool that there are different subjects with these different places, with a lot of history! Glad you enjoyed all of these different adventures. Thanks for sharing!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an awesome post and an awesome day, I didn’t even know there were that many museums there! Bonus that they’re all free and I’d love to visit the Holocaust museum as I have a huge interest in dark tourism and also just generally now want to visit DC, so thank you for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s