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“Great collections!”

National Museum of American History
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USD 30.00*
and up
Museum of American History Through Music Small...
Ranked #58 of 488 things to do in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: One of the Smithsonian museums along the Mall, this one has more than 3 million artifacts in its collection—from gowns to locomotives—that reflect and preserve a record of America’s past.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Reviewed 6 April 2018 via mobile

Many great exhibits for American history buffs! Don't miss the Star Spangled Banner exhibit which displays the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner. Huge flag and in my opinion was the best exhibit in the museum! I thought the other top exhibits were George Washington's uniform, Abraham Lincoln's top hat that he wore the night of his assassination in Fords Theater, Thomas Jefferson's desk that he wrote the Declaration of Independence on and one of the drums played for the drum cadence in JFK's funeral procession. All of the above were found in the following sections: The Price of Freedom (3rd floor), the American Presidents (3rd floor), First Ladies (3rd floor), Star Spangled Banner (2nd floor) and American Democracy (2nd floor).

2  Thank JennyGreerSC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"the star spangled banner"
in 413 reviews
"julia child's kitchen"
in 257 reviews
"ruby slippers"
in 207 reviews
"wizard of oz"
in 186 reviews
"pop culture"
in 189 reviews
"archie bunker's chair"
in 110 reviews
"first ladies dresses"
in 93 reviews
"american flag"
in 105 reviews
"inaugural gowns"
in 65 reviews
"transportation exhibit"
in 53 reviews
"fort mchenry"
in 52 reviews
"food exhibit"
in 47 reviews
"francis scott key"
in 41 reviews
"on display"
in 243 reviews
"my favorite"
in 127 reviews
"great exhibits"
in 72 reviews
"under renovation"
in 39 reviews

112 - 116 of 4,402 reviews

Reviewed 5 April 2018 via mobile

Museum has a lot of cool pop culture and iconic things on display. Museum was very crowded which did make it hard to maneuver through exhibits. Overall a great experience and a must see while visiting DC!

Thank Stacey V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 April 2018 via mobile

We were most looking forward to this Smithsonian and it was such a let down! Boring! No Elvis car no ruby slippers that while part of the exhibit was closed. Why would they do that during tourist season? Such a let down! Only highlight was the original Star Spangled Banner.

Thank ILoveAGoodRoadTrip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 April 2018

Spring Break was probably not the best time to visit because the place was packed making it hard to get close enough to study the artifacts.

Thank Gunn O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 5 April 2018

The thing about this museum is that it is more like a collection of memorabilia from American history than a history lesson. This was quite different to what we had expected. We were expecting to learn more about American history and the forces that shaped America over time but it’s not that sort of museum.
It is more like a collection of interesting historical keepsakes and pop culture – albeit a very, very big collection by an obsessive memorabilia hunter. There are over 3 million objects.
It was also a little confusing to navigate. We had chosen a number of ‘highlights’ that we wanted to see but it wasn't that easy. It was difficult to pin down where a particular item was which meant that we couldn't really make a beeline to it. Even a map of the floorplan still didn't help much.
The museum was laid out in a thematic way which is great if you have the luxury of time to wander and explore. If like us, you are short on time and have planned to drop in and see a few highlighted items, then it is not so easy.
In the end, we gave up on our ‘checklist’ of things to see and spent most of our time in the section called ‘American Presidency: A Glorious Burden’, which we enjoyed. There were lots of interesting and sometimes quirky things to see, such as a teddy bear made from the hair of several Presidents, including George Washington. There was the top hat Lincoln wore when shot, Washington’s bedside easy chair, a dolls house made by the White House gardener for Grover Cleveland’s children, not to mention the First Ladies gowns. Sadly, the museum was closing just as we got to the gowns so we missed them (husband and son didn't seem to register this as a tragedy, but I was disappointed).
In summary, if you only have time for a few of the Smithsonian museums and have to pick and choose between them, there are probably other more significant ones to see. However, this one was fun and would be best seen if you have the time to browse through it.
The 'must-see' item is the original (and surprisingly big) Star-Spangled Banner.
Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz were not on display while we were there (the 80+ years old shoes have been removed for conservation and repair).
Entry is free and there is security screening at the door, with bag checks.

Thank Mairwen1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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