Art Museums in Washington DC

THE 10 BEST Washington DC Art Museums

Art Museums in Washington DC

Types of Attractions
Museums
Traveler rating
Neighborhoods
Good for
25 places sorted by traveler favorites
  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

What travelers are saying

  • Diana L
    Omaha, NE135 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Art isn't something I know a lot about, so I always like listening in when the workers/volunteers are talking about paintings. Very nice that they had a coat/bag check, so I didn't have to carry around all my gear. It was a last-minute stop during my day, and it was lovely just walking around looking at art.
    Written May 20, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Diana L
    Omaha, NE135 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    This was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Getting to see all the famous portraits of people all throughout history. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.
    Written May 20, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • LisandroVoyager
    Washington DC, DC768 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fancy afternoon tea service nicely presented and smoothly served for our monthly luncheon club for seniors. Sandwiches, scones and sweets were delicious and there was a good choice of teas presented to each of us. The service was unhurried and attentive.
    Written April 30, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • AnnieBay26
    Guilford, CT4 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    This gem of an exhibition includes many of Bonnard's paintings organized by genre: interiors, landscapes, and images of Marthe in the bathtub. There are echoes of Matisse and Van Gogh, and for bonus, Renoir's "The Boating Party" is on display. A lively discussion ensued when we were there as to the intended focus of the painting. I engaged several of the guards, who were thoughtful and articulate ( I always love to talk to museum guards...). The museum is easy to navigate; if you are an American Alliance of Museum member ( AAM) admission is free. But even if you are not, this small and lovely museum is wonderful. Not to miss. Gift shop is also full of great Bonnard themed gifts....
    Written April 27, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Robert D
    Brooklyn, New York3,873 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) and the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) are both housed in the old Patent Office building. In SAAM, there were many interesting exhibits, both permanent and temporary. The exhibits give a broad picture of American art from the colonial period until the 21st century.
    Written January 4, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Gregory K.H.
    Los Angeles, CA6 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    This is a really wonderful Gallery, always lots of fun, part of the Smithsonian Institution. It focuses on artwork and crafts in the Smithsonian's collections. But that doesn't begin to cover it. Incredible artwork and things created by some of the nation's most interesting and remarkable craftspeople. Truly spectacular stuff.

    The building is also a real treasure. It was designed in the late 1850s in the Second Empire Style for William Corcoran, a great early collector of fine art. This architectural style had just caught the attention of American taste makers, and the idea of a public museum was new to Americans. There had been less than a handful up to that point. Corcoran selected American born James Renwick, Jr., then just 41, as the architect for his pioneering building, to be designed in a style new to the United States. Renwick was both inventive and very influential, and it has been renamed for him.

    Nearly completed at the opening of the Civil War, it was requisitioned by Secretary of War General Stanton for war support, and General Montgomery C. Meigs converted the building into his headquarters office.

    It was not finally returned to Corcoran until the late 1860s. It finally opened to the public in 1874 as one of the nation's first art museums. The Corcoran Museum quickly out grew this building, and moved to their great 1897 Gilded Age Gallery they still occupy just a few blocks over.

    This building was put to a variety of uses, and in the late 1950's, it was scheduled for demolition for new government offices along with virtually all the other historic buildings facing Lafayette Square and the White House. Then President Kennedy was elected, and First Lady Jackie Kennedy led the nation in reevaluating the importance of our historic buildings, then being literally destroyed by the thousands. Mrs. Kennedy collaborated with the very inventive American architect John Carl Warnecke, born just 101 years after Renwick, to redesign the government buildings to preserve this architectural treasure along with the others facing the White House and the park. What a success.

    The interiors are as Victorian as the outside! Visit this spectacular Victorian for great national treasures. The exhibits are always changing.
    Written May 10, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • James F
    Cranbury, NJ235 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Someone snuck in a little fun for those who are able to spot it. In many ways, this museum is like any other art museum: illustrations and sculpture and other art forms displayed with little plaques to explain to the visitor what you're looking at. But look again at those plaques. Whoever wrote them had some fun. They are filled with artistic references: Spirited Away (a Japanese anime movie), A Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne anyone?), Snow Light, Snow Bright (snow in the painting remind anyone of stars?), Fan Fiction (art based on the styles and subject matter of prior artists), Private Zen (I'm no James Patterson fan, but even I can see the reference), etc, etc. These little jolts make the exhibit more interesting and, for me, stir thought processes about the works being described. Give the author a raise. Oh. And did I mention that this museum has grown and is now vast? Spend half an hour on a piece of it or all day wandering through the building. You won't be able to see it all.
    Written March 31, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Daniel P
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Exquisite gardens. A great place to listen to the birds, view the flowers, and contemplate a post WWII future. The mansion holds memories of 1944 and the birth of the United Nations as well as an art collection started by the original owners. A great destination.
    Written May 18, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Mike G
    374 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Recently renovated and reopened this place should certainly be a on your list to see. Lots of women’s art from numerous eras provide a comprehensive view of what female artists have contributed. Of particular interest is the second floor devoted to contemporary sculpture.
    Written December 24, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • federico l
    Milan, Italy6 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fascinating exhibition center, with multiple, thought-provoking installations and a beautiful garden of sculpture.
    Only disappointment the cafeteria which is a unnecessary rip off ($9 for an almond croissant)
    Written October 15, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • YoungAdults
    Florida64 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fabulous collection in the former home of the Kreegers. The history of the home, the Kreegers and their guests, the architecture and setting are all strong supporting casts to the extensive collection. Knowledgeable docents are happy to share. A new favorite, we will come back
    Written November 30, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Felisa P
    17 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great museum to visit while in DC.

    Free if cost across the street from the MLK library great for young and older ppl

    Kids may not enjoy it but great for 11 on up
    Written September 22, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Sonya
    8 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    It's something to do.
    It's certainly unique & colorful, however, not the most entertaining or interactive. I honestly expected it to be larger (one large room w/ digital art) maybe 5-7 other small areas with some interacting. "Beyond the light" was more "boring" knowledge based reading than digital art- to me. I personally prefer the "Otherworld" (Ohio) style. To each his own. I wouldn't personally do it again.
    Written October 2, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Adventure Diva
    Manchester, CT2,528 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Went to see a specific exhibit before it left the museum. John Akomfrah's Purple exhibit did not disappoint. This video is an hour long image and sound exhibit which showed themes around climate change (disappearing landscapes, etc). Images were striking. Music was hypnotic. Purple plays across six large screens. The carpet is in a deep shade of purple. I'm told it's the color of mourning in Ghana where this London-based artist is from.
    Written October 3, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • jaseaton
    Silver Spring, MD2,487 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    The Katzen Arts Center at American University is a relatively small museum and cultural center that exhibits art and houses studios, talks and other events. Currently (March 2023), they have a delightful exhibit of aboriginal paintings on eucalyptus tree bark (see pictures). Each work is accompanied by a "story" from the artist explaining what s/he was trying to convey. The stories -- straight out of something Margaret Mead would have written -- are charming. There's a super convenient underground parking garage at the museum that's free to visitors on weekends. Worth a two-hour visit.
    Written March 26, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
All Washington DC HotelsWashington DC Hotel DealsLast Minute Hotels in Washington DC
All things to do in Washington DC
RestaurantsFlightsTravel StoriesCruisesRental Cars