What You Need to Know About the Smithsonian Institute

Updated on December 11th, 2018 at 10:06 pm

Smithsonian is a research complex and museum which is made of 19 galleries and museums and the National Zoological Park. The totaled amount of specimens, works-of-arts and objects at the Smithsonian Institute have been estimated at around 137 million. Their collections range from spacecraft and locomotives on to meteorites and insects. The variety of artifacts is truly staggering, which includes an outstanding collection of the ancient Chinese bronzes, 3.5 billion-year-old fossils, the Star-Spangled Banner to the amazing Apollo lunar-landing module. Through its long-term Loan Program, the Smithsonian has managed to share their expertise and collections with over 161 affiliate museums from across the country.

Where Is the Smithsonian Museum Located?

This federal institution along with its multiple museums are scattered across Washington, DC. Ten of these museums can be found from 3rd to 14th Streets between Independence and Constitution Avenues, in a radius of about 1 mile.

The Smithsonian Visitor Center is positioned in the Castle at 1000 Jefferson Drive SW and is in the center of the National Mall which is a short walking distance from the Smithsonian Metro Station. To get to the Smithsonian using public transport is suggested as one of the best methods. This is because parking is very limited and the traffic is in most cases very heavy close to Washington DC’s most sought-after attraction. The Metro rail is located conveniently close to most of the Smithsonian museums as well as the National Zoo. Visitors can also make use of the DC Circulator Bus that offers a convenient and fast service around this downtown area.

The Hours and Admission Fees

The museums are all open from 10 am to 5.30pm every day of the week and admission is free. The museums are closed on Christmas Day. In the summer months, the museum is open until 7 pm at the Museum of National History, the Air and Space Museum, National Portrait Gallery, American Art Museum and the Museum of American History.

The more popular Smithsonian museums that are suitable for children include:

  • National Zoo
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Air and Space Museum


Special activities dedicated to children include:

  • The Carousel in the National Mall, close to the Arts and Industries Building, is open throughout the year, weather permitting.
  • The Einstein Planetarium offers the experience of shooting across the skies and the galaxy.
  • The Discovery Theater provides live “theatrical” performances for kids.
  • IMAX Theaters, project films on awe-inspiring 5-story high screens along with 6-channel Digital Surround Sound.

Places to Eat While Visiting the Smithsonian

The cafes in the museums are mostly crowded as well as expensive but happen to be the more convenient locations to get something to eat. Alternatively, you can bring along a picnic and enjoy your lunch on one of the grassy areas at the National Mall. You can also choose to buy a soda and hotdog from one of the street vendors.

Washington DC Things To Do and See

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