Smithsonian National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, on the National Mall in Washington DC, is dedicated to all aspects of American history and culture.

Apollo Theater Exhibit
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The Smithsonian Museum of America History is one of the world’s most-visited museums. It has been renovated in the past few years. Most of that renovation was basically a facelift, but the underlying building is what it is–a functional, but not especially pretty, exhibit space. It doesn’t have the grand foyer of the Natural History Museum, the massive atrium of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, or the tranquil internal courtyard of the American Art and Portrait Gallery. What it has is a broad range of exhibits relating to American cultural, political, military, technological, and social history spread over three large floors (there’s also another half floor with a cafeteria, gift shop, and locker space).

Reflecting the diversity and complexity of American history, the exhibits here are eclectic. If you want to see Dorothy’s sparkly red shoes from the Wizard of Oz, Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt, Julia Childs’ kitchen, models of historic American ships, exhibits on the growth of American suburbia, industrialization, pre-Columbian cultures, the Civil Rights struggle, dresses of the First Ladies, or a mix of other themes, episodes, and topics related to American history, this is your place. And occupying pride of place in the center of the museum is the massive Star Spangled Banner flag.

Photos of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Vintage Car at Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington DC

Main Foyer

Steam Train Jupiter at the Smithsonian American History Museum
Steam train Jupiter.

Star Spangled Banner exhibit

School Bus at Smithsonian American History Museum
An old school bus.

Military Campaigns Exhibit

Smithsonian American History Museum Lincoln Top Hat
Abraham Lincoln’s top hat.

Car Exhibit at Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington DC

Historic Wagon at Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington DC

1964 Ford Mustang at Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington DC
Debut of the Mustang at the 1964 World’s Fair.
Nuclear reactor console
Nuclear reactor console.

Car Exhibit at Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington DC

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington DC

Historic housekeeping

Train Exhibit at Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington DC

Science exhibit

Smithsonian American History Museum

Smithsonian American History Museum American Stories Exhibit

Apollo Theater Exhibit

George Washington Statue

Apollo Theater Exhibit

Getting Here

The Museum is on the northern side of the National Mall, next door to the Natural History Museum.

The most convenient metro stops are Federal Triangle (Orange and Blue lines; 0.2 miles), Smithsonian (Blue and Orange lines; 0.3 miles), and Archives/Navy Memorial (Yellow and Green lines; 0.6 miles).

The Museum does not have its own parking lot. There are some spots on the streets nearby, but parking spaces can be hard to come by, and be sure to check the signs for when parking is allowed so that you don’t get towed. Overall, it’s much less hassle to go by Metro.

Official Website

http://americanhistory.si.edu/

Taking Photos at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum

In general, personal photography is allowed.

Cameras are allowed. Flash is allowed in much of the museum, except where posted. No photography is allowed in the Star Spangled Banner exhibit. Tripods are not allowed.

You’ll pass through a security bag check on your way in; large bags should be checked in the self-service lockers on the lower level.

Many of the exhibits spaces are quite dark, so a high ISO is often called for.

A rolling renovation program means that there’s often some exhibit space that’s closed, but it’s usually a small fraction of the total.

More Photos of the Smithsonian’s American History Museum

You can find more of my photos from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History here.

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