National Museum of American History

Our exhibitions explore major themes in American history and culture, from the War of Independence to the present day. The Price of Freedom: Americans at War surveys the history of U.S. military conflicts and examines ways in which wars have been defining episodes in American history. America on the Move immerses visitors in the sights, sounds and sensations of transportation in the United States from 1870 to the present. Familiar favorites back on view include The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, Within These Walls… and First Ladies at the Smithsonian. New artifact walls and special cases mean that a larger selection of our objects are on display, creating a new way of experiencing history. A schedule of temporary and traveling exhibitions will offer visitors something new on almost every visit.

The Museum hosts a full roster of public programs, from demonstrations, lectures and tours to storytelling and festivals. Music programs offer performances by chamber music ensembles, a jazz orchestra, gospel choirs, folk and blues artists, Native American singers, dancers, and more. In Spark!Lab, the Lemelson Center’s newest hands-on science and invention space, visitors can experiment with dry ice, invent new uses for paper bags and discover the story behind inventions like the boxed cake mix, among other activities. The brand new Nina and Ivan Selin Welcome Center allows for expanded visitor information services with increased one-on-one contact. The Museum’s Archives Center houses a remarkable array of American history in documents, photographs and other works. These include the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, advertising histories of major U.S. corporations, and the Duke Ellington Collection—sheet music, correspondence and photographs related to the life and career of the great composer and jazz musician.

More than ever before, the National Museum of American History today shines new light on American history. The museum works to ensure that our collections, exhibitions, research, publications and educational programs all support the Museum’s basic mission—to inspire a broader understanding of our nation and its many peoples—and to make our exhibitions and programs as accessible as possible to all visitors.

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Image Credit: Ron Cogswell / Flickr Commons


The Museum is open 10:00AM to 5:30PM every day except December 25. 

On days with extended hours the Museum remains open until 7:30pm.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


Admission is always free and no tickets are required.


  • Self-guided touring
  • Educational programs
  • Special programs/events


The National Museum of American History opened to the public in January 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology. It was the sixth Smithsonian building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Since then, some 4 million visitors a year have passed through the doors to enjoy the Museum’s exhibitions, public programs, educational activities, collections, and research facilities. Millions more make virtual visits to the Museum’s website.

In 2008, the Museum completed a two-year, $85 million renovation of the building’s center core, dramatically transforming the building’s architectural appeal while reorganizing and renewing the presentation of its extensive collections. The renovation project focused on three areas: architectural enhancements to the center core, including a grand staircase and a skylight; construction of a new 'Star-Spangled Banner' gallery, and updates to the 44-year-old building’s infrastructure.


Last updated: July 08, 2022
Star Spangled Banner Trail