The Best Museums & Art Galleries in Washington, D.C. – Mus3ums

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Washington, D.C. / United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and also known as D.C. or Washington, is the capital city of the United States of America. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. Located on the Potomac River bordering Maryland and Virginia, the city is one of the most visited cities in the United States, with more than 20 million visitors annually.The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River near the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress, and the district is therefore not a part of any U.S. state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. The City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia, including the city of Alexandria; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the district. Washington had an estimated population of 705,749 as of July 2019, making it the 20th most populous city in the United States. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. Washington's metropolitan area, the country's sixth largest , had a 2017 estimated population of 6.2 million residents.The three branches of the U.S. federal government are centered in the district: Congress , the president , and the Supreme Court . Washington is home to many national monuments and museums, primarily situated on or around the National Mall. The city hosts 177 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profits, lobbying groups, and professional associations, including the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund , the Organization of American States, AARP, the National Geographic Society, the Human Rights Campaign, the International Finance Corporation, and the American Red Cross. A locally elected mayor and a 13‑member council have governed the district since 1973. However, Congress maintains supreme authority over the city and may overturn local laws. D.C. residents elect a non-voting, at-large congressional delegate to the House of Representatives, but the district has no representation in the Senate. District voters choose three presidential electors in accordance with the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961. For statistical purposes, the District of Columbia is treated as a state-equivalent by the U.S. Census Bureau.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Washington, D.C. / United States

The National Museum of Women in the Arts , located in Washington, D.C., is "the only major museum in the world solely dedicated" to celebrating women's achievements in the visual, performing, and literary arts. NMWA was incorporated in 1981 by Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay. Since opening its doors in 1987, the museum has acquired a collection of more than 4,500 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative art. Highlights of the collection include works by Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, and Élisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun. The museum occupies the old Masonic Temple, a building listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

White House

Washington, D.C. / United States

The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. The term "White House" is often used as a metonym for the president and his advisers. The residence was designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban in the neoclassical style. Hoban modelled the building on Leinster House in Dublin, a building which today houses the Oireachtas, the Irish legislature. Construction took place between 1792 and 1800 using Aquia Creek sandstone painted white. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he added low colonnades on each wing that concealed stables and storage. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion was set ablaze by the British Army in the Burning of Washington, destroying the interior and charring much of the exterior. Reconstruction began almost immediately, and President James Monroe moved into the partially reconstructed Executive Residence in October 1817. Exterior construction continued with the addition of the semi-circular South portico in 1824 and the North portico in 1829. Because of crowding within the executive mansion itself, President Theodore Roosevelt had all work offices relocated to the newly constructed West Wing in 1901. Eight years later in 1909, President William Howard Taft expanded the West Wing and created the first Oval Office, which was eventually moved as the section was expanded. In the main mansion, the third-floor attic was converted to living quarters in 1927 by augmenting the existing hip roof with long shed dormers. A newly constructed East Wing was used as a reception area for social events; Jefferson's colonnades connected the new wings. East Wing alterations were completed in 1946, creating additional office space. By 1948, the residence's load-bearing exterior walls and internal wood beams were found to be close to failure. Under Harry S. Truman, the interior rooms were completely dismantled and a new internal load-bearing steel frame constructed inside the walls. Once this work was completed, the interior rooms were rebuilt. The modern-day White House complex includes the Executive Residence, West Wing, East Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building—the former State Department, which now houses offices for the president's staff and the vice president—and Blair House, a guest residence. The Executive Residence is made up of six stories—the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement. The property is a National Heritage Site owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President's Park. In 2007, it was ranked second on the American Institute of Architects list of "America's Favorite Architecture".

United States Department of State

Washington, D.C. / United States

The United States Department of State , commonly referred to as the State Department, is a federal executive department responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy and international relations. Established in 1789 as the nation's first executive department, its duties include advising the President of the United States, administering the nation's diplomatic missions, negotiating treaties and agreements with foreign entities, and representing the U.S. at the United Nations. The department is led by the Secretary of State, a member of the Cabinet who is nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. The Secretary of State serves as the nation's chief diplomat and representative abroad, and is the first Cabinet official in the order of precedence and in the presidential line of succession. The State Department is headquartered in the Harry S Truman Building, a few blocks away from the White House, in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C.; "Foggy Bottom" is thus sometimes used as a metonym. The current Secretary of State is Mike Pompeo.

Dumbarton Oaks

Washington, D.C. / United States

Dumbarton Oaks is a historic estate in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It was the residence and garden of Robert Woods Bliss and his wife Mildred Barnes Bliss . The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection was founded here by the Bliss couple, who gave the property to Harvard University in 1940. The research institute that has emerged from this bequest is dedicated to supporting scholarship in the fields of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian studies, as well as garden design and landscape architecture, especially through its research fellowships, meetings, exhibitions, and publications. Dumbarton Oaks also opens its garden and museum collections to the public, and hosts public lectures and a concert series. Dumbarton Oaks is distinct from Dumbarton House a Federal Style historic house museum also located in the Georgetown area.

United States Capitol

Washington, D.C. / United States

The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building, is the meeting place of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. Though no longer at the geographic center of the federal district, the Capitol forms the origin point for the district's street-numbering system and the district's four quadrants. The original building was completed in 1800. Although the Capitol was temporarily rendered unusable as a consequence of the 1814 burning of Washington, the building was fully restored within five years. The building was later enlarged, with the addition of a massive dome, and extended wings with expanded chambers for the bicameral legislature, the House of Representatives in the south wing and the Senate in the north wing. Like the principal buildings of the executive and judicial branches, the Capitol is built in a distinctive neoclassical style and has a white exterior. Both its east and west elevations are formally referred to as fronts, though only the east front was intended for the reception of visitors and dignitaries.

National Archives and Records Administration

Washington, D.C. / United States

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with the preservation and documentation of government and historical records. It is also tasked with increasing public access to those documents which make up the National Archive. NARA is officially responsible for maintaining and publishing the legally authentic and authoritative copies of acts of Congress, presidential directives, and federal regulations. NARA also transmits votes of the Electoral College to Congress.The National Archives, and its publicly exhibited Charters of Freedom, which include the original United States Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, United States Bill of Rights, and many other historical documents, is headquartered in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

Interior Museum

Washington, D.C. / United States

The Interior Museum is a museum operated by the United States Department of the Interior and housed at the Department's headquarters at the Stewart Lee Udall Main Interior Building in Washington, D.C., on the first floor.When the Interior Museum opened in the U.S. Department of the Interior's newly-constructed headquarters in the nation's capital on March 8, 1938, a museum was considered a novel element to include in a federal office building. However, the Secretary of the Interior at that time—Harold Ickes —was a proponent of the arts and also strongly believed in the importance of having the American people understand the work of the Department. To this day, the Interior Museum's mission remains to actively educate and inspire employees and the public about the ongoing stewardship of the nation's public lands, natural resources, and cultural heritage. The Interior Museum's collection contains more than 8,000 objects of historical, cultural, and scientific importance relating directly to the activities of the Department. In addition to developing exhibitions and public programs, Interior Museum staff also conduct public tours highlighting the elements that made the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building a "symbol of a new day" during the Great Depression. The headquarters building contains more New Deal-era murals than any other government building, featuring such artists as John Steuart Curry, Maynard Dixon, William Gropper, Allan Houser, Velino Herrera, and Millard Sheets, plus a series of photomurals by Ansel Adams. Admission is free, but valid photo identification must be presented to enter the building. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30AM to 4:30PM . Building tours are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2PM; advance reservations are required.

Smithsonian Institution

Washington, D.C. / United States

The Smithsonian Institution , also known simply as the Smithsonian, is a trust instrumentality of the United States composed as a group of museums and research centers. It was founded on August 10, 1846, "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge". The institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. It was originally organized as the "United States National Museum", but that name ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967.Termed "the nation's attic" for its eclectic holdings of 154 million items, the Institution's 19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research centers, and zoo include historical and architectural landmarks, mostly located in the District of Columbia. Additional facilities are located in Maryland, New York, and Virginia. More than 200 institutions and museums in 45 states, Puerto Rico, and Panama are Smithsonian Affiliates.The Institution's 30 million annual visitors are admitted without charge. Its annual budget is around $1.2 billion, with two-thirds coming from annual federal appropriations. Other funding comes from the Institution's endowment, private and corporate contributions, membership dues, and earned retail, concession, and licensing revenue. Institution publications include Smithsonian and Air & Space magazines.

DAR Museum

Washington, D.C. / United States

The DAR Museum, run by the Daughters of the American Revolution, is an art and history museum in Washington, D.C. The museum is located in Memorial Continental Hall, just down the street from DAR Constitution Hall, where some of the museum's concerts take place.The museum is known for its more than 30,000 examples of objects made or used in America prior to the Industrial Revolution. Items on display in the more than 30 period rooms include: furniture, silver, paintings, ceramics, and textiles.The museum's collection also includes the New Hampshire Toy Attic where children are able to play with reproductions of historic toys; it is geared toward children aged four through ten, but offers a range of family-friendly content including its more than 30 period rooms.