Planning a visit to the nation’s capital may seem overwhelming given the vast amount of galleries and exhibitions in the world’s largest museum complex, Smithsonian Institution as well as the many museums not within the Institution. So if you’re heading to D.C. on your honeymoon and you’re not quite not sure where to begin your museum tour, we’ve got five suggestions for you, one of which is an upcoming museum which opens next year and is sure to be the talk of the town.
Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Museum of African Art Facebook
The National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) began as a private educational institution in 1964 to promote cross-cultural understanding in the social sciences and arts. Founded by Warren M. Robbins, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer, it was known as the Museum of African Art and located on Capitol Hill in a townhouse that had been the home of Frederick Douglass, the African American abolitionist and statesman. In August 1979, by enactment of Public Law 95-414, the museum became part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge.
The National Museum of African Art has some of the best exhibits in the Smithsonian. Past, present, and upcoming exhibitions include “The Healing Power of Art: Works of art by Haitian children after the earthquake,” “Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria,” and “Artists’ Books and Africa” which opens this September.
Photo Credit: National Museum of the American Indian Twitter
The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world—approximately 266,000 catalog records (825,000 items) representing over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americas.
The National Museum of the American Indian is one of my favorite museums in Washington D.C. There is so much culture in these walls straight from the American Indian community which as a whole has given so much for attendees to learn as they walk the halls. Prepare to spend the entire afternoon in here, there is just so much beauty to behold here.
Photo Credit: Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries Facebook
The Freer Gallery of Art, which opened in 1923, caters to more of the classical aesthetic while the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which opened in 1986, has more contemporary pieces. Connected by an underground passageway, these galleries contain beautiful collections of the Asian Arts and Asian American culture from the nineteenth century to present day.
Photo Credit: National Museum of Women in the Arts Facebook
Founded in 1987, NMWA is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to recognizing women’s creative contributions. The National Museum of Women in the Arts brings recognition to the achievements of women artists of all periods and nationalities by exhibiting, preserving, acquiring, and researching art by women and by teaching the public about their accomplishments.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts boasts over 4,500 pieces of work from the sixteenth century to present day. If you are looking to walk through an art exhibition that recognizes talented women, many of whom were marginalized in their time and are now finally being acknowledged for their talents and works, this is the museum to visit.
Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
5. National Museum of African American History and Culture – Opens 2016
From Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and Muhammad Ali’s headgear to the Harriet Tubman Collection and the shackles used to to bind those enslaved on ships in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this museum is busy curating its collection of well over 1,000 items at this time.
Subjects will include the era of slavery, the period of Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights movement. The museum’s foundational collections will be representative, featuring items from all regions of the United States.
By the time this museum opens in 2016, there’s no telling how many more items will be on display but the wait to see them all will be out the door. So plan accordingly and make sure you put some money aside for the gift shop. This is one museum you’ll definitely want a commemorative piece from.
What are your favorite museums in the D.C. area?