AAA Editor Notes
The Smithsonian Castle, 1000 Jefferson Dr. S.W., is the original Smithsonian building, completed in 1855. It is home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center, where visitors will find interactives to help them plan a route through the Smithsonian museums. You can also explore the building's 19th-century architecture, watch a panda cam, find out what's happening on the day of your visit, and consult with in-house experts who can provide tips on what to see and do.
The exhibition Welcome to Your Smithsonian reveals the institution's history, from a surprising bequest by James Smithson (an English scientist who never visited the United States) to its growth into the world's largest museum and research complex. Smithson's tomb lies in a crypt off the north entrance. The Smithsonian Institution: America's Treasure Chest offers a tantalizing sample of the breadth and depth of the Smithsonian's vast collections. Historic photographs show how the National Mall has changed since the building opened.
Food is available. Time: Allow 1 hour minimum.