What is the Smithsonian Institution?The Smithsonian is a museum and research complex, comprised of 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 137 million. The collections range from insects and meteorites to locomotives and spacecraft. The scope of artifacts is staggering—from a magnificent collection of ancient Chinese bronzes to the Star-Spangled Banner; from a 3.5 billion-year-old fossil to the Apollo lunar landing module; from the ruby slippers featured in "The Wizard of Oz" to presidential paintings and memorabilia.
Through a long-term loan program, the Smithsonian shares its vast collections and expertise with more than 161 affiliate museums around the country.
Where is the Smithsonian Museum?The Smithsonian is a federal institution with multiple museums scattered throughout Washington, DC. Ten of the museums are located from 3rd to 14th Streets between Constitution and Independence Avenues, within a radius of about one mile. See a map.
The Smithsonian Visitor Center is located in the Castle at 1000 Jefferson Drive SW, Washington, DC. It is located in the center of the National Mall, just a short walk from the Smithsonian Metro Station.
For a complete list of the museums, see A Guide to All of the Smithsonian Museums.
Getting to the Smithsonian: The use of public transportation is highly recommended. Parking is extremely limited and traffic is often heavy near Washington DC’s most popular attractions. Metrorail, is conveniently located near many Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo. The DC Circulator Bus offers a quick and convenient service around the downtown area.
What are the admission fees and hours?Admission is free.
The museums are open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. seven days a week, every day throughout the year, except for Christmas Day. During the summer months, hours are extended until 7 p.m. at the Air and Space Museum, Museum of Natural History, Museum of American History and American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery.
What are the most popular Smithsonian Museums for kids?
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Air and Space Museum
- National Museum of American History
- National Zoo
What special activities are there for kids?
- Check the daily calendar of events
- The Carousel on the National Mall, near the Arts and Industries Building, is open year-round, weather permitting.
- Discovery Theater offers live theatrical performances for children.
- IMAX Theaters project films on a five-story-high screen with six-channel digital surround sound.
- The Einstein Planetarium gives you the sensation of zooming across the skies and through the galaxy.