Smithsonian Institution

What is the Smithsonian Institution?

The Smithsonian Institution includes a number of museums, research centers, and galleries run by the US Government. The organization was founded "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge", and contains many exhibits displaying some of the 137 million items it possesses.

Where is the Smithsonian Institution Located?

The Smithsonian Institute has many locations, most of which are located on the National Mall. Others are in Washington DC and the nearby metropolitan area, while additional facilities and Smithsonian affiliates are spread throughout the country and, in fact, the world.

Click here to see a map of the Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries in the DC area. Zoom in to see specific locations of the many National Mall locations in detail.

What museums, galleries, and parks does the Smithsonian Institution Operate?

The Smithsonian Institute operates 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoo, and an information center in the DC area.

African American History and Culture MuseumNational Mall (Under Construction)
National Museum of African ArtNational Mall
National Air and Space MuseumNational Mall
National Air and Space Museum - Udvar-Hazy CenterChantilly, VA
Smithsonian American Art MuseumDowntown, DC
National Museum of American HistoryNational Mall
National Museum of the American IndianNational Mall
Anacostia Community MuseumAnacostia, DC
Art & Industries CenterNational Mall (Closed for renovation)
Freer Gallery of ArtNational Mall
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture GardenNational Mall
National ZooRock Creek Park, DC
National Museum of Natural HistoryNational Mall
Portrait GalleryDowntown, DC
Postal MuseumCapitol Hill, DC
Renwick GalleryFoggy Bottom, DC
Arthur M. Sackler GalleryNational Mall
Smithsonian Institute Building (The Castle)National Mall
S. Dillon Ripley CenterNational Mall
American Indian Museum - Heye CenterNew York, NY
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design MuseumNew York, NY

What does it cost to visit the Smithsonian?

Access to the Smithsonian Institution's museums, galleries, and the National Zoo is free. The Udvar-Hazy center charges $15 for parking at it's facility, due to its proximity to Dulles International Airport. Some features, such as IMAX tickets, have a charge, but exhibits do not.

When is the Smithsonian open?

  • Museums are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • The American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery are open 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • The National Zoo is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Buildings 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) April-October.
  • The National Zoo is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Buildings 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) November-March.
  • All facilities are closed December 25, and for some weather related events.

How is the Smithsonian funded?

The Smithsonian Institution's support comes from a variety of sources - endowment, private and corporate contributions, memberships, the Federal Government, retail, concessions, licensing, and purchase of publications.

Who founded the Smithsonian Institution?

The Smithsonian Institution was founded after the passing of Henry James Hungerford, heir to British scientist James Smithson. After Hungerford passed away childless, the fortune was willed to the United States to establish an institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. After some struggles, legislation founding the institution was signed by James Polk on August 10, 1846.

National Museum of American History

In Washington DC, few attractions can be more meaningful than the National Museum of American History, a must-see collection of national treasures and history located on the National Mall.

National Air and Space Museum

If there's one topic that never ceases to capture the imagination of everybody, it's the exploration of sky and space. The Smithsonian Institution investigates that fascination with it's expansive air and space collection.

National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian features artwork, artifacts, culture, and beliefs of the many tribes indigenous to the Americas.

National Air and Space Museum - Udvar-Hazy Center

Located near Dulles International Airport, the Udvar-Hazy Center is a large facility run by the Air Space Museum. The collection includes the Space Shuttle Discovery, a Blackbird, Control Tower, and much much more.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The American Art Museum focuses on american art and artists. It is located in Downtown DC in the same building as the NationalPortraitGallery

Freer Gallery of Art

Located on the National Mall, the Freer Gallery of Art features a rich array of art from across the continent of Asia.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Located just off the National Mall, the Sackler Gallery displays several collections of Asian art and the largest Asian art research library in the US.

National Museum of African Art

The Smithsonian Institution's African Art collection is located just off the National Mall, on Independence Ave.

National Zoo

Washington DC is home to the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo. The zoo is located on 163 acres, and with free admission, contains 400 different species. Giant Panda's headline the zoo, but many mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and birds provide a hours of fun and learning for all ages.

Anacostia Community Museum

The Anacostia Community Museum focuses on the African American community, and the Anacostia community in South East Washington DC.

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