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Make time for museums in Washington DC

Topic U.S. Travel

Make time for museums in Washington DC - Image

Washington D.C., fittingly for a national capital, has no shortage of attractions, and among them are some of the most well-regarded museums in the United States. From the National Air and Space Museum to the National Gallery of Art, some of the country's best informational and aesthetic collections can be found in D.C. However, the capital is also home to a plethora of other museums that, while smaller and less renowned, still have enough to offer that they should be part of any United States travel itinerary.

Making the news
Countless museums are devoted to immortalizing historical artifacts and events, but the Newseum is unique in its mission to illuminate the way that people record history in the making. The Newseum offers educational events and exhibits chronicling American journalism through its short but volatile history. Ideal for family travel, the institution tracks important events in recent history and dives behind the scenes to see how they're reported and interpreted by journalists.

Exhibiting current events as well as those of decades past, the Newseum recently announced that it would hold artifacts related to the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting of Michael Brown that has dominated news casts in the U.S. this year, The Washington Post reported. Workshops and screenings are frequent and exhibitions change regularly. Opened just a few years ago, the museum has been collecting accolades from the likes of TripAdvisor and the Washington City Paper, according to its website.

Undercover exhibits
While the Newseum is dedicated to events that captured public attention in the U.S., another D.C. museum concentrates on things that were never meant to be revealed at all. The International Spy Museum, opened in 2002, is the only public museum focused on espionage in the U.S., according to its website. Its collection contains objects used by spies in their line of work and tells the stories of many people whose exploits have never before been brought to light.

The museum also offers interactive experiences perfect for young visitors or anyone interested in the craft of espionage. Time® magazine listed the International Spy Museum among its top 10 attractions in D.C., calling it "one museum that is actually worth paying for." According to Conde Nast traveller®, the museum's gift shop is also worth checking out, as it offers such quintessential spy toys as pens equipped with secret camcorders and lock-picking cuff links.

Art in the garden

If you're looking for a more traditional museum experience but want to see collections that garner a little less attention than the biggest names, D.C. offers plenty of world-class but relatively obscure art museums as well. The Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden may not be as well-known as the National Gallery of Art, but it offers first-rate contemporary art and is located right on the National Mall. Better yet, the museum is open every day except Christmas and admission is free, according to its website. The Hirshhorn's most stand-out attraction is its garden, a relaxing landscape full of intriguing sculptures that's open from early morning to dusk.