AAA Editor Notes
National Museum of American History is on Constitution Ave. between 12th and 14th sts. N.W. It presents the cultural, social, technological and political development of the United States. Helping tell this ongoing story is the building's centerpiece, a five-story, sky-lighted atrium lined on the first, second and third floors with artifact walls. These glass-fronted cases are filled with rotating displays that highlight objects and new acquisitions from the museum's vast collections.
The first floor of the Innovation wing, first floor West, explores game-changing ideas and new ways of doing things that remake the present and shape the future. The exhibitions, learning places and performance spaces in this 45,000-square-foot area offer multiple ways for visitors to explore forward-looking innovations. American Enterprise is the Smithsonian's first-ever exhibition about business history. Also here is the hands-on SparkLab! and Wegmans Wonderplace, a gallery designed for children up to age 6. Panoramic windows provide a view of Alexander Calder's Gwenfritz stabile and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
In the East wing, America on the Move examines how transportation helped transform a mostly rural nation into a major economic power. FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000, includes Julia Child’s kitchen and a look at how new technologies together with social and cultural shifts influenced major changes in food, wine and eating. The Albert H. Small Documents Gallery features rotating exhibitions of historically significant books, maps, diaries and other documents.
A state-of-the-art chamber on the second floor, holds the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired America's national anthem; multimedia displays detail the history behind this meticulously preserved artifact. Other venerated items are The newly transformed second floor of the museum’s west wing explores The Nation We Build Together across 30,000-square-feet and four key exhibitions including American Democracy which has the portable desk Thomas Jefferson used to draft the Declaration of Independence and Many Voices, One Nation. A section of the Woolworth’s lunch counter from segregation-era Greensboro, N.C. is displayed here in Unity Square.
Nearly two dozen gowns, dresses and suits belonging to First Ladies, including Martha Washington, Mary Todd Lincoln, Nancy Reagan, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump are found on the third floor. The adjacent exhibition, The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, explores the public, personal, ceremonial and executive roles of the nation's highest office. The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, is an 18,000-square-foot exhibition surveying the history of the U.S. military from the Colonial era to the present, exploring ways that wars have been defining episodes in American history.
Plan on taking 10-30 minutes to clear security at the entrances.
Guided tours are available. Food is available.
Station: Federal Triangle
Daily 10-5:30; Guided tours are offered most days; check the Events page on the museum website or phone for schedule. Closed Christmas. Allow 2 hours minimum.