Located in Washington, D.C., the National Museum of American History is a branch of the renowned Smithsonian museums. The National Museum of American History is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and promoting American history.


© National Museum of American History

When it was founded in 1964, the National Museum of American History was initially known as the Museum of History and Technology. The Renowned architectural partners, McKim Mead & White designed the Museum. Almost twenty years after the Museum opened, the Museum of History and Technology decided to change its name to reflect a new mission that was solely dedicated to preserving and promoting American history. Thus, in 1980, the Museum of History and Technology became the National Museum of American History.

Although McKim Mead & White’s design was impeccable, the Museum decided to renovate in September 5, 2006. This renovation cost a total of $85 million and lasted until November 21, 2008. During the renovation, the National Museum of American History was closed to the public. Some of the highlighted changes were; an atrium that was five stories, a grand staircase to link the first few floors, new areas for exhibits, and an updated facility for a welcome center.

A few years after the first renovation was completed, the new Museum director, John Gray, decided to initiate another renovation dedicated to enhancing spaces for exhibits and educational opportunities. This renovation cost a total of $37 million and lasted until 2016. Parts of the renovation reopened to the public in the summer of 2015.

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2.Permanent Attractions

Permanent Attractions
© National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History is the proud owner of more than 3 million objects and documents that are related to American history. Although the Museum has a dense permanent collection, only a select chunk of their permanent collection is shown at any given time. The Museum’s permanent attractions are divided among the following groups:

Advertising demonstrates how advertising techniques and themes have developed throughout American history.

Agriculture showcases the importance agriculture had on the development of America.

Art displays a select number of art pieces that demonstrate the correlation between art and history.

Clothing & Accessories features numerous outfits and materials from a variety of classes and ages. Thus, showing how clothing reflects history.

Coins, Currency, and Medals is one of the largest displays of currency and valuable medals throughout history, specifically American history.

Communications displays how communication technology has evolved and influenced American society.

Government, Politics, and Reform is one of the most comprehensive exhibits at the National Museum of American History. This attraction tells the story of our government’s history, and how American society and politics have evolved.

Popular Entertainment is one of the most popular and beloved attractions at the Museum. This attraction displays a variety of artifacts from an array of entertainment leaders and mediums. Some of the highlighted artifacts include Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and an array of Muppet characters, such as the lead Muppet, Kermit the Frog.

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3.Special Attractions

Special Attractions
© National Museum of American History

In addition to the Museum’s dense permanent collection, the National Museum of American History regularly displays special attractions throughout the year. For an update list of special attractions at the Museum, be sure to check out the Museum’s official website.

Artifact Walls—Art Pottery and Glass in America, 1880s-1920s features work from renowned manufacturers, such as Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, Paul Revere Pottery, and Phoenix Glass Company. These pottery and glass objects display the influence decorative arts had on American history, and vice versa. This exhibit will be on display until March 12, 2017.

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II explores the Executive Order 9066, which led to approximately 120,000 people of Japanese heritage being held in prison camps. This exhibit will be featured until February 19, 2018.

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4.Educational Opportunities

Educational Opportunities
© National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History offers a variety of educational programs for all of their visitors. The educational opportunities at the Museum differ among age groups and professions. Some of the most popular educational opportunities include the Spark!Lab, guided tours, and field trips.

The Spark!Lab is an interactive area for children between the ages of six and twelve to explore history in a fun, creative, and interactive way. Another popular educational opportunity at the Museum is the guided tour program, which allows visitors to explore the Museum in an in-depth and exclusive way. The guided tour program is similar to the field trip program.

For more information about any of the educational opportunities at the National Museum of American History, check out the Museum’s website, or contact them during their hours of operation.

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Constitution Ave NW & 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, Phone: 202-633-1000

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Washington, D.C. Attractions: National Museum of American History