The complete guide to Smithsonian museums

Enticing, beautiful, and best of all...free.

by Rashmi Chugani

Smithsonians are a huge part of what make DC and New York a paradise for history buffs. These world class museums encompass art, science and technology, and natural history in abundance. Plus, they are all free everyday. Most of the names are self-explanatory, so take your pick for whatever you’re in the mood to learn on your visit.

National Museum of the American Indian 90

National Mall, 4th St. and Independence Ave., S.W.

Use videos, interactive technology, and displays of artifacts to help you learn about Native cosmologies, history, and contemporary cultural identity.

- Frommer's

Smithsonian Institution Building 76

1000 Jefferson Dr SW

Storm the castle for information.

- Not For Tourists

National Postal Museum 79

2 Massachusetts Ave. NE

This Smithsonian Institution museum houses the world's largest philatelic collection and chronicles America's mail service from colonial times to the present.

- Michelin Guide

Anacostia Community Museum 76

1901 Fort Pl SE

This Smithsonian museum wears several hats: as community hall and museum for the surrounding black neighborhood of Anacostia, and as a place for rotating exhibits.

- Lonely Planet

This eclectic museum occupying an opulent, 64-room mansion on the Upper East Side explores design across continents and cultures.

- Michelin Guide

Smithsonian American Art Museum 70

8th and F Streets, NW

The world's biggest and most inclusive collection of American art houses a collection that spans three centuries, from the colonial period to today.

- Fodor's

The Smithsonian's first museum on the Mall devoted exclusively to art, the Freer Gallery possesses an outstanding Asian collection totalling some 27,000 works.

- Michelin Guide

Renwick Gallery 79

17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave. NW

This ornate brick building adds a touch of quiet elegance to the bustling corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street.

- Michelin Guide

National Museum of African Art 82

1400 Constitution Ave NW

This unique underground building houses stunning galleries, a library, photographic archives, and educational facilities.

- Fodor's

Traces the history of America through visual and performing arts that pay tribute to great American icons like Marilyn Monroe and Rosa Parks.

- Travel + Leisure

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum 88

6th and Independence Ave., SW

This is the country's most visited museum, attracting 9 million people annually to the world's largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft.

- Fodor's

This spectacular, aggressively modern cylindrical building by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill enlivens the predominantly neoclassical architecture lining the Mall.

- Time Out

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History 90

10th Street and Constitution Ave

This is one of the world's great natural history museums.

- Fodor's

National Museum of American History 91

1400 Constitution Ave NW

This unique museum captures the essence of America by presenting the objects and ideas that have figured prominently in the nation's material and social development.

- Michelin Guide

National Zoological Park 92

3001 Connecticut Ave NW

This "biopark" exhibits more than 2,000 wild animals and serves as a research institution devoted to the study, preservation and breeding of threatened species.

- Michelin Guide

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