Washington, DC

Free modern art in Washington, D.C.

Jessica Rabbit

Washington DCImage by David Mark from Pixabay

If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in Washington, DC, you’ll find it’s a vibrant city with so much to do. There are tons of museums, and most of them are free to visit. You can do some quality sightseeing for free in the United States capitol city. The modern art options are vast, and here’s a short list of some of your best options!

1. Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The museum has some amazing modern pieces and the sculpture garden is outside across the street. The Smithsonian Castle is nearby and there are all sorts of elegant gardens there and at the neighboring museums. I’d recommend about 2-3 hours seeing this area, though it can be compressed if you’re in a hurry.

2. The White House and The Renwick. You won’t be able to visit the White House without making advanced reservations through your Congressman; however, walking past the front is a DC "must," and you’ll find the Renwick, next door. It's a very simple modern art exhibit hall, and it's well wroth the visit. You can see both the White House and the Renwick in under an hour.

3. Reynold’s Center: American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery. This is one of the few Smithsonians that isn’t on the Mall, but it’s a short walk away and reliably has smaller crowds. There’s an amazing atrium and my favorite area is the third (top) floor, as it’s where the modern art is displayed. If you stop by, definitely walk to the intersection of 7th Street and H Street to see the Chinatown arch. The best coffee in the city is at Chinatown Coffee, just down the street.

4. Lincoln Memorial. Though it isn’t considered modern art, the Lincoln Memorial is the most interesting monument (in my opinion), and you can visit day or night. It is the perfect setting for a late night stroll if the weather isn’t too cold.

5. American History Museum. This museum houses some of our most beloved national treasurers. One of the most famous being Dorothy’s ruby red slippers! You’ll find a vast number of treasures within these walls.

The city of DC feels very compact, with all of the sights compressed into a walkable area about as vast as the Las Vegas Strip (though not as linear). The Mall is comprised of the one-mile stretch between the Capitol and the Washington Monument where most of the Smithsonian Museums are housed. The monuments, war memorials, and additional museums are offshoots from the main Mall area, but most museums are in the same general region. Enjoy your travels!

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