Underrated DC Museums
If you’re more inclined to enjoy a few places in-depth than to try to make the Big Circuit, you can pretty much have your pick among some of the most underrated DC Museums. Government agencies may have tighter restrictions in the post-9/11 era, but plenty of museums, historic homes, and religious sites offer guided tours or detailed brochures and recordings that you can use. Or you can just wander about at your leisure. Here are some of our favorite places, most of which you can walk into on the spur of the moment.
The Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress is a stunning example of lavish public construction, with its mythological murals and sculptures, gilded ceilings, stained glass skylights, mosaics, allegorical friezes, and grand staircases—and that’s not even counting the Gutenberg Bible or the great dome of the main reading room made famous by that vertiginous tracking shot in All the President’s Men. It’s not just a library, it’s a work of art.
Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Gardens is not only an extraordinary mansion, filled with medieval and Renaissance tapestries, furniture, and Asian and European art and sculpture, but it’s also a treasure trove of Byzantine and pre-Columbian art and rare books, some of which are exhibited in the galleries. And, as if that weren’t enough, the grounds—a dozen period piece and specialized formal gardens, a swimming pool and bathhouse with tile mosaics, etc.—are one of the most underrated oases in the area.
The Daughters of the American Revolution Museum is one of Washington’s underrated beauties. It has 31 period rooms, and even though you can only peek in from the doors, the wealth of decorative pieces, ceramics, paintings, silver, costumes, and oddities is wonderful. It may not sound kid-friendly, but, in fact, there is a space upstairs where children can play with real 18th- and 19th-century toys and flags.
More underrated DC Museums can be found in the Unofficial Guide to Washington D.C.
Photo Credit: By Daderot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons