National Museum of American History

What is the National Museum of American History?

The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History oversees the institutes collection of items with cultural, political, and historical significance in the history of the United States. Visitors will learn about the events and cultures that have shaped the nation, including military conflicts, political and social events, and scientific discovery.

What Highlights can be found at the National Museum of American History?

The museum holds several permanent and temporary exhibits. Current long-term exhibits include:

  • America on the Move: Featuring 19 historic american settings, this exhibit takes visitors through the changes in transportation in the United States. The exhibit includes a 1903 Winston, the first car driven across the country, a Greyhound bus, a locomotive, and a piece of Route 66.

  • The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden: This exhibit teaches about the role and history of the presidency in the United States. Many of the museum's collection of personal and significant object belonging to or used by past presidents are on display.

  • American Stories: View some of the most significant objects in the history of the nation, including a piece of Plymouth Rock, ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and Apolo Ohno's speed skates.

  • Conestoga Wagon and Hand-Pump Engine: Upon entering the museum, see examples of some of the early animal and hman powered transportation devices used to explore and settle the country.

  • The Dolls' House: A five story, 23 room doll house is an example of a toy from the early 1900's.

  • The First Ladies: First Ladies have played a significant role in the nation's history. This exhibit displays portraits and articles from these important figures, including more than 24 gowns worn by the wives of America's presidents.

  • FOOD: Transforming the American Table: After World War II the ability to produce and transport food has changed significantly. American's opinions of foods have changed as well. Explore these changes, learn about the ethnic roots of the american menu, and see Julia Child's home kitchen on display in this exhibit.

  • Gunboat Philadelphia: See an american gunboat which was commanded by Benedict Arnold during the American Revolution. The gunboat sank in battle and was recovered from Lake Champlain in 1935.

  • Landmark Objects: See objects that exemplify key themes in the history of the United States. These include Dumbo the Flying Elephant from Disneyland, a marble statue of George Washington, a lunch counter from Greensboro which played a key role in the fight for civil rights, a steam locomotive, and the Vassar Telescope, used by the first US professional female astronomer.

  • Lighting a Revolution - Electricity Hall: Electricity and electric light had a significant affect on the nation and the world. Learn about Thomas Edison's invention, including a bulb used in an early public demonstration. The exhibit also features several early appliances, some of which are used today, and others which did not turn out to be popular.

  • On the water: Stories from Maritime America: Discover the role that maritime travel has played in american history, with models of ships, some smaller watercraft, and parts from historic vessels.

  • Power Machinery: See the machinery that powered the Industrial Revolution. See an early steam engine, the more advanced steam turbine, and early internal combustion engines.

  • The Price of Freedom: Americans at War: The United States is a nation born from revolution, and it has continued to have involvement in several conflicts, including a civil war. See several artifacts, including George Washington's sword and scabbard, chairs used by Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S Grant. in the surrender of the South in the Civil War, and a helicopter from the Vietnam War.

  • The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag That Inspired the National Anthem: This exhibit displays the original Star-Spangled Banner. Almost 200 years old, this flag inspired the national National Anthem.

  • Stories on Money: This collection of american coins showcases currency used in Colonial America, the Gold Rush, the Great Depression and today.

  • Within these Walls: See a colonial home which has housed five families in Ipswitch, Massachusetts. The home shows how ordinary people played a part in the events through the nation's history.

The museum also runs special exhibitions throughout the year. For a current listing, see the museum's listing of current exhibitions.

What else is at the National Museum of American History?

  • Warner Bros. Theater: See educational videos about American History in the museum's state of the art theater.

When is the National Museum of American History Open?

  • The Smithsonian Institution's Museums are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Close extended until 7:30 p.m. some days (details)
  • Closed December 25

Where is the National Museum of American History?

The National Museum of American History is located on the National Mall next to the National Museum of Natural History.

What metro station is closest to the National Museum of American History?

The museum is close to:

What does it cost to visit the National Museum of American History?

As with other Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries, there is no cost for admission to the National Museum of American History.

Where can I learn more about the National Museum of American History?

Learn more at



10am - 5:30pm daily; sometimes extended to 7:30pm, except December 25




1400 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

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