All too often, when visitors from other countries come to Washington, D.C., they bypass the Smithsonian Museum of American History. With limited hours and so much to see, their time is usually allotted to the Air and Space or Natural History Museums. American History is just so…specifically American! As a guide, I too, have been guilty of assuming that this is one museum that isn’t really of great interest to foreign visitors.
But I think that is wrong!
Recently I’ve had the chance to spend considerable time in the American History Museum and I have discovered its amazing exhibits! Stuff that is of interest to everyone!
Has anyone in the world not marveled at Dorothy tapping her ruby slippers together 3 times while saying, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!” ?
And who doesn’t love a train? Seeing the early locomotives close up, shiny-clean and sparkling is amazing!
Recently, for the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the actual “barouche”, or open carriage in which he and Mary Todd Lincoln rode on the afternoon of April 14, 1861 was on loan from the Studebaker Company. It was a spectacular sight, especially with his monogram emblazoned on the doors.
Today, June 12 is the 28th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s great challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev: “Tear down this wall!” A section of that iconic wall is on display, complete with graffiti!
For anyone with an interest in transportation, the America on the Move exhibit is spectacular. Beginning with horse drawn carts and wagons and moving through trains, buses, cars and motorcycles, nearly every imaginable mode of transportation is represented.
American Presidents no doubt play an integral role in the world, but the First Ladies are the ones with whom there is always a keen fascination. From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama, The Inaugural Gowns exhibit displays their particular sense of style and is a clear demonstration of how fashion in America has evolved in 250 years. Alongside are the china settings each lady selected for use during her tenure in the White House.
From toys to transport, watercraft to war and advertising to agriculture, the Smithsonian American History Museum has exhibits of interest to everyone. No more will I recommend foreign visitors to skip this venue in lieu of the others. It is not to be missed on any visit to Washington, D.C!
Smithsonian Museum of American History is located at 14th St. and Constitution Ave., NW Washington, D.C. and is open daily from 10 am to 7:30 pm. There are gift shops and a cafeteria located on the premises.