Photo by Albert Ting/ Smithsonian American Art Museum
Photo by Albert Ting/ Smithsonian American Art Museum

These Great Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC Have Reopened to the Public

Update: Effective Monday, November 23, DC's Smithsonian Museums are closing again due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. No timetable has been announced for their reopening. We will share that information as soon as we have it.  

Washington, DC's most iconic museums and cultural centers are slowly, and carefully, reopening to the public. The crown jewel of these DC museums, the Smithsonian Museums, are offering timed admission (still free!) with safety measures in place.

What's open? What's on, exhibition-wise? What's worth seeing? We have all the answers you need. Read on.

In the meantime, sign up for our free newsletter and stay up to date on the best things to do in Washington DC with kids.

National Museum of the American Indian

National Mall
Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-4pm

As a safety precaution, some areas of the National Museum of the American Indian are  closed, including the interactive ImagiNATIONS center. But now is the perfect time to explore the Americans exhibit, which highlights the ways in which American Indians have been part of the nation’s identity since before the country began.

RELATED: DC's Reopened International Spy Museum is a Treat for Kids 

Wakanda Forever! See the Black Panther costume at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photograph by Matt Kennedy/Marvel courtesy of the Smithsonian NMAAHC
Visitors can again view the Black Panther costume at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photograph by Matt Kennedy/Marvel courtesy of the Smithsonian NMAAHC

National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Mall
Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-4pm

While some exhibits, like the segregated rail car, are still closed, and safety modifications have been made to others, much of this wonderful museum is open now, including an exhibit of African-American movie posters, a peek at how African-Americans have influenced film and the theater, African-American contributions to sports, andof coursegalleries devoted to the history of slavery and civil rights in the United States.

National Museum of American History

National Mall
Open Friday-Tuesday, 11am-4pm

When you think of American History, what comes to mind? 1776? Paul Revere? The Gold Rush? How about Dorothy's ruby-red slippers from The Wizard of Oz? Exhibits on view include America on the Move in the Hall of Transportation, a five-story doll house, and The First Ladies (a tribute to fashions worn by the wives of presidents.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

National Mall
Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-7pm

The American Art Museum is a true treasure trove. Take a trip through SAAM’s collection to find links between automobiles and American art in the Automobile and American Art exhibit, or consider the many moods of the American Buffalo, as portrayed by multiple artists.

RELATED: More DC Museums that Are Free Every Day

Meet Abe Lincoln at the National Portrait Gallery. Photo by JC Briceno/FotoBriceno courtesy of Smithsonian's NPG
Catch a glimpse of Abraham Lincoln and other presidents at the National Portrait Gallery. Photo by JC Briceno/FotoBriceno courtesy of Smithsonian's NPG

National Portrait Gallery

National Mall
Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11:30am-7pm

Permanent exhibits at the NPG include America's Presidents, the nation's only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House. You can also check out portraits of creative geniuses, from P.T. Barnum to Elvis; and Champions, a mix of legendary figures from the world of sports.

National Zoo

Woodley Park
Open daily, 8am-4pm

Yes, the National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian portfolio, and the animals are delighted to have an audience again. You can check out the Cheetah Conservation Station, the Elephant Community Center, the Great Ape House. the Kids' Farm, the Great Cats, and more. The giant pandas are not on view yet, so visit the zoo's website to fall in love with the new panda baby.

National Air and Space Museum-Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center

Chantilly, VA, just a short drive from Washington D.C.
Open daily, 10am-5:30pm

Need a lift? Teleport (or drive) to Chantilly to gaze at some of aviation's most inspiring gadgets. The massive Space Shuttle Discovery is on display, along with the Concorde and Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first bomb on Hiroshima. The observation tower is temporarily closed, but the Clouds in a Bag exhibit, exploring the history of balloon flight, is worth a gander.

RELATED: DC's National Zoo: What You Need to Know

The space shuttle is again on display at the National Air and Space Museum.

Admission to all Smithsonian Museums is FREE, but there might be additional charges for special exhibits. There is a parking charge of $15 at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Parking at the National Zoo will set you back $30.

For Visitors Using the Metro: The best station is L’Enfant Plaza on the Blue/Orange/Green/Yellow lines for the National Museum of the American Indian. Use the Smithsonian or Federal Triangle stations for the National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of American History.

For more information on all of the Smithsonian Museums, visit www.si.edu.

These museums remain closed as October 15:

The National Museum of Natural History
National Museum of African Art
National Air & Space Museum
Anacostia Community Museum
Freer Gallery of Art
Hirschhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
National Postal Museum
The Sackler Gallery
The Smithsonian Institution Building (aka The Castle)


National Air and Space Museum-Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA

National Museum of American History
1400 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC, DC

National Museum of the American Indian
4th St. and Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC, DC

National Museum of Natural History
10th St. and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC, DC

National Museum of African American History and Culture
1400 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

Smithsonian American Art Museum
F St NW & 8th St NW
Washington, DC 20004

National Portrait Gallery
8th and F Streets NW
Washington , DC 20001

The National Zoo
3001 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008
Festival of Lights
Watkins Regional Park - 5:00 PM Pick
Winter Walk of Lights
Meadowlark Bontanical Gardens - 5:30 PM Pick
Bull Run Festival of Lights
Bull Run Regional Park - various times Pick
Holiday Festival of Trains
B&O Railroad Museum - various times Pick
Downtown Holiday Market
F Street sidewalk in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery - 12:00 PM
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