What are the best free museums in Washington D.C.?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Mary Beth Albright

Most, but not all, museums in DC are free so the city provides a great opportunity to take in little bits of many cultural spaces. The National Portrait Gallery houses extraordinary art, but the Gallery's Kogod Courtyard is a masterpiece by itself. The glass atrium houses a cafe, fountains, and trees, and is a marvelously sunny space in winter. Plenty of comfortable chairs invite visitors to simply admire the architecture. Julia Child's kitchen at the Museum of American History is foodie mecca, with her every tool placed exactly as it was in her Massachusetts home. The National Building Museum is a spectacular, cavernous space (the most coveted private event venue in DC), and wonderful with children — there is a special "Building Zone" for kids under 6 where they can learn about architecutre while playing with soft blocks, and a new "Play Work Build" exhibit with real and virtual blocks. 

McLean Robbins

Visitors to Washington are lucky – nearly all of the city’s museums are free and open to the public. The Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall are popular tourist destinations and definitely among the area’s best free museum destinations. We’d also suggest the less-visited but no less impressive Portrait Gallery and Museum of American Art in Chinatown and the Renwick Gallery, also part of the Smithsonian collection, located just beside the White House. If you’re visiting Washington, D.C. for just a short while, don’t miss the “Big Three,” which includes the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Museum of American History and the Air and Space Museum.

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