National Building Museum

#23 in Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.
National Building Museum picture
fintastique/Getty Images

Key Info

401 F St NW

Details

Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
3.3scorecard
  • 3.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 3.0Atmosphere

Washington boasts countless examples of iconic architecture, but the National Building Museum fittingly stands out from the rest. The gargantuan building, which completed construction in 1887, once housed the United States Pension Bureau as well as a variety of political events like inaugural balls. In 1985, the building completed its transition into a museum, and it was officially renamed the National Building Museum in 1997. Currently, the museum showcases various interesting intersections of architecture and design throughout American history and culture.

Previous visitors marveled at the Corinthian columns in the National Building Museum’s Great Hall, which dwarf travelers as they move between exhibits. They also recommend checking the museum’s schedule before you visit because the exhibits rotate relatively frequently. Regardless of the current displays, travelers should at least briefly duck into the building, as access to the Main Hall is free.                            

Tickets to the National Building Museum’s exhibits cost $10 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 17, students and seniors 60 and older. The museum opens at 10 a.m. Monday to Saturday and at 11 a.m. on Sunday and closes at 5 p.m. daily. The Judiciary Square and Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro stations both drop travelers within walking distance of the National Building Museum. Additionally, three bus routes stop near the National Building Museum; limited parking is available. The National Building Museum’s website includes additional information regarding upcoming exhibits and special events. 

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More Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Memorial1 of 25
Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans Memorials2 of 25
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Lincoln Memorial

Although the Lincoln Memorial is just one of the District's many monuments, the larger-than-life Honest Abe is also among travelers' favorites. History buffs might enjoy the man of few (albeit powerful) words' two famous speeches, the second inaugural address and the Gettysburg Address, which are both etched into the memorial's opposing walls. Meanwhile, art history and architecture aficionados will enjoy admiring the building's striking design by Henry Bacon, complete with 38 Doric columns, 36 of which signify the states in the Union at the time Lincoln passed away.

Though most agree the Lincoln Memorial is worth checking out during the day or at night, many recent travelers say the most captivating time to visit is after dark when the attraction is lit and less crowded. Plus, evening temps will make peak summer visits more comfortable.

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