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Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall

The Smithsonian Institute operates 12 museums and galleries on the National Mall, as well as many other facilities in the area.  Museums are free to visit, and most are open 10am-5:30pm all days except December 25.  Several metro stations on all lines get you close to the museums, including Smithsonian, Federial Triangle, and L’Enfant.  See 10 Metro stops for popular DC attractions for more station information.

1. National Museum of African American History and Culture

Photo by Tony Hisgett

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest addition to the Smithsonian Institute’s National Mall museums.  The museum views the history of America through the lens of African Americans, from the realities of slavery through to contemporary culture.

2. 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.  Exhibits include the First Ladies dresses, the original Star-Spangled Banner, and much more.

3. National Museum of Natural History

The Natural Museum of Natural History features exhibits showcasing the natural world, including flora and fauna to minerals and geological history.  Find everything from real dinosaur bones to a butterfly exhibit to the Hope Diamond.

4. National Museum of the American Indian

The Smithsonian Institution’s National National Museum of the American Indian is dedicated to the history and culture of the native peoples of the Americas, including all of the Western Hemisphere. The museum’s facility on the National Mall houses the Smithsonian Institution’s collection of Native American artifacts, hosts events and festivals, and teaches visitors about the diverse native cultures.


5. National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum is spread across two facilities, holding and displaying the Institution’s collection of aircraft and spacecraft; the largest in the world. The museum’s primary facility is located on the National Mall, with a larger building and grounds, the National Air and Space Museum – Udvar-Hazy Center located in Virginia near Dulles International Airport.

6. Hirshhorn Museum

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the National Museum of Modern Art.  Find a variety of exhibits featuring modern art and sculptures, including regular installations and rotating exhibits.

7. Arts and Industries Center

The Arts and Industries building is closed for renovation.  It occasionally hosts special events.

8. National Museum of African Art

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art is home to the Institution’s collection of African artwork. Exhibits include paintings, ceramics, textiles, pottery, and other forms of artwork from African artists representing styles and cultures of the continent. The museum’s includes the Walt-Disney Tishman collection, with over 500 items collected by Paul and Ruth Tishman, donated to the museum to the Smithsonian in 2005.


9. Smithsonian Castle

The Smithsonian Castle contains an exhibits showcasing the Smithsonian Institute, including samples from exhibits in other museums on the Naional Mall and beyond.  The space also features cafeteria space and is popular for group gatherings.

10. The S. Dillon Ripley Center

The Dillon Ripley Center features rotating exhibits and the Discovery Theater.

11. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery features several collections of art from the continent of Asia. Artwork includes photography, ceramics, prints, pottery, sculptures, and more. The gallery if closely associated with the attached Freer Gallery of Art.

12. Freer Gallery of Art

The Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of art is home to part of the institution’s collection of Asian art. The gallery is located on the National Mall, and features paintings, sculptures, and their artistic objects from Asian, Middle Eastern, and American artists. An addition to the 26,000 object Freer collection, the facility is connected to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery underground, which completes the institution’s Asian collections.

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