The first few years we lived in DC, the only artifacts on display from the American History Museum collection were housed in a tiny room at the Air & Space Museum.
Everyone who came to visit was sorely disappointed.
The massive museum reopened late 2008, and is arguably one of the most beautiful (and busiest) Smithsonian museums in DC.
The American History Museums is filled with items like the original American Flag that flew over Ft. McHenry during the war of 1812 (and inspired the Star Spangled Banner), Dorothy’s Slippers and Kermit the Frog. You can spend hours admiring First Ladies’ Inaugural frocks, Julia Child’s kitchen and studying one-of-a-kind presidential artifacts.
Believe me. I’ve done it.
It’s a bit different hitting up the American History Museum with my two-year-old. Some days we are really lucky to make it through one exhibit, before she wants to get out of her stroller and touch everything.
But the Smithsonian museum folks account for that, I think. With multimedia displays, touch and feel replicas and programs for little ones– going to this museum has become a different experience.
I may no longer be able to study Mamie Eisenhower’s dress. I won’t get through the Food in America exhibit without reading a single thing other than the rise in popularity of packaged meats and invention of microwaves.
However, my daughter will be incredibly happy studying the other kids and trying out her first drinking fountain. The bathrooms have also proven handy for quick diaper changes and nap time prep (I’m fortunate that occasionally she’ll sleep in a stroller).
Here are a few fun things going on this July– if you’re looking to beat the heat and humidity.
July/August 2013 National Museum of American History Events
- Flag Folding. Learn how to fold a full-size replica of the 30×42 foot Star-Spangled Banner. Flag Hall. Most Tuesdays-Saturdays at 2:30. July and August.
- Broad Stripes and Bright Stars. Meet Mary Pickersgill, the seamstress who sewed the Star-Spangled Banner in 1813. Help assemble the huge garrison flag and learn about its history. Historic Theatre. Most Sundays- Thursdays at 10:30, 12:30, 2:00 and 3:30 in July. Free and for all ages. 20 minutes.
- Smithsonian Summer Camp. A few slots are still available for week-long summer camps sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. More information and registration is available here. July and August.
- Wash, Rinse, Wring, Repeat!: 19th-Century Laundry at Home. Try your hand at doing laundry without the help of a washing machine or dryer. Most Wednesdays-Saturdays at 10:30. Outside, South Side Mall Terrace. July and August.
National Museum of American History Visitor Information
- 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW.
- Open every day except for December 25. Open from 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. most days through Labor Day. After September 1, the museum will close at 5:30 p.m.
- Nearest Metro Stops: Federal Triangle and Smithsonian. Limited street parking is available near the museum.
- Planning your visit? Check here for a list of current, daily events
- Website: National Museum of American History
More DC Summer Fun
- Work on your own summer bucket list
- Beat the heat at a local splashpad or swimming pool
- Head to Hersheypark for a day (or two) of amusement park fun
- Check out a nearby National Park (hint: maybe one you haven’t been to in awhile!)
- Pack (or pick up) a picnic and head to a scenic spot