Free Museums and Galleries in Washington, DC

By: Lisa -
August 19, 2015

As the nation’s capitol, DC is home to some of the best museums in the country, including everything from art to history to science. Most people know that the Smithsonian museums are free, but you may not know that many other DC museums are either free or practically free. To check out a list of all the Smithsonian museums, click here. For all the other free (or nearly free) museums, check out our list below.

African American Civil War Memorial - FREE
1925 Vermont Ave NW
This museum and memorial highlights the contributions of African Americans during the Civil War.
Tuesday - Friday 10am to 6:30pm
Saturday 10am to 4pm
Sunday 12pm to 4pm

American University Museum - FREE
4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
This museum is housed in the American University Katzen Arts Center and focuses mainly on international and political art.
Tues - Sun, 11am to 4:00pm

Anderson House - FREE
2118 Massachusetts Ave, NW
This winter home of an American diplomat was finished in 1905 in DC’s most fashionable neighborhood. Get a glimpse into the political and private life of DC’s elite in the early 20th century.
Tuesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m

Art Museum of the Americas - FREE
201 18th St NW
The museum focuses on established and emerging artists from the Americas and houses a permanent collection of Latin American and Caribbean art that is unparalleled.
Tuesday- Sunday, 10am-5pm

Charles Sumner School - FREE
17th and M Sts., NW
This was one of the earliest schools catering to African Americans. The school now houses a museum and archive for the DC public school system. Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, archives are open by appointment only Monday-Friday 10am-4pm.

Dumbarton House - FREE
2715 Q St NW
This collection includes more than 1,000 pieces from the Federal Period, 1789-1825. The pieces include furniture, paintings, silver and ceramics, as well as journals and letters that document the family that lived there.
Tuesday- Sunday, 11am to 3pm

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection - FREE
Garden admission is $8 March- October 1703 32nd St, NW Dumbarton Oaks focuses on Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art, as well as European masterpieces and special exhibits. You can also visit their spectacular gardens. Garden admission is free in the winter and $8 the rest of the year.

Folger Shakespeare Library - FREE
201 East Capitol St, SE
Located on Capitol Hill, this is the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials, as well as Renaissance books, manuscripts and art.
Monday- Friday ,10am-5pm Sunday, Noon-5pm

George Washington University Art Galleries - FREE
805 21st St NW
The gallery at George Washington University is distinguished for it’s photography, but it also features paintings, sculptures, textiles and historical furniture.

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens - FREE
4155 Linnean Avenue, NW
Come visit these extensive gardens- 25 acres to be exact! Also check out the house where you’ll find a comprehensive collection of Russian Imperial art and Frech decorative art.
Tues - Saturday, 10am -5pm

Laogai Museum - FREE
1734 20th St, NW
The mission of this museum is to expose the brutal prison and forced-labor camps of Communist China. The museum includes interviews, documentaries and prison artifacts.
Open daily 10am-6pm

Library of Congress - FREE
10 First Street SE
Visit the world’s largest collection of knowledge and culture at the Library of Congress. This collection includes personal artifacts, photographs and religious artifacts.
Monday- Saturday, 10am-5pm

Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum - FREE
701 3rd St NW
Trace the history of the Jewish community of the DC area from the 19th century through today.

National Archives - FREE
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Come here to see the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence
Monday- Saturday 9am-5pm

National Bonsai and Penjing Museum - FREE
3501 New York Ave, NE
Learn to appreciate the art of the Bonsai and explore the beautifully maintained gardens, You’ll also find a collection of scrolls, stones and other plants.
Open daily 10am- 4pm

National Gallery of Art - FREE
Constitution Ave NW and 6th St NW
Opened in 1941, this museum features an extensive collection of European and American art from the Renaissance to the present day, including paintings from VanGough and Monet, as well as a sculpture garden.
Monday- Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sunday 11am-6pm

National Guard Memorial Museum - FREE
1 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Learn the history of the National Guard from the 17th century to today.
Monday- Friday, 9am-4pm

National Museum of Women in the Arts - FREE or $10
New York Ave and 13th St NW
This museum is all about girl power! This museum is the only museum in the world to focus solely on the creative contributions of women and houses a collection of 4,500 objects and an 18,500-volume library.Regular admission is $10 or join them for FREE community days are the first Sunday of every month. Open Monday- Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm

National Postal Museum - FREE
2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.
This museum is dedicated to the preservation and study of postal history in the United States.
Open daily 10am-5:30pm

Old Stone House - FREE
3051 M St NW
This is exactly what is sounds like- an old stone house in the middle of DC. This museum commemorates the lives of ordinary Americans in the 18th century. Also check out the charming English garden.
Open daily Noon-5pm

Phillips Collection - Donation
1600 21st St NW
View modern art works by Renoir, Rothko and O'Keefe in this intimate setting.
View the permanent collections Tuesday-Friday by donation only.
Weekend visits are $10.
Special exhibits require an extra fee.
Open Tuesday- Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 11am-6pm

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - FREE
100 15th St SW
This museum teaches visitors about the Holocaust and remembers surivors and victims. Admission is free but advanced tickets might be required during peak seasons.
Open daily 10am-5:20pm

U.S. Navy Museum - FREE
736 Sicard St SE
This museum is dedicated to the display of artifacts and documents chronicling the Navy’s history from the American Revolution to today.
Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and 10am-5pm

One thing to remember: a lotvof these museums survive through private donations. If you really LOVED a museum, don’t forget to donate a few bucks before you leave. Help share the love.