It might be hard to get your students revved up about visiting a local museum but visiting a museum in Washington D.C. is a game changer. The plethora of museums that our nation’s capital has to offer is seemingly endless. Each museum is specifically curated to provide students a wealth of knowledge through interactive displays, technology, and simulations.
After a museum tour of D.C., students will walk away more empathetic to those who endured hardship to create this nation and most importantly, inspired to be one of the forces of good that change the world.
No student tour to Washington D.C. is complete without a visit to this learning haven. This collection of 11 museums and galleries are housed on the National Mall, while seven other exhibits are in the greater Washington D.C. area. Every museum is free, meaning students can pick and choose what exhibits catch their interests.
National Air and Space Museum
For students with a known interest in STEM, the National Air and Space Museum will provide a one-of-a-kind experience. The museum contains 23 galleries where they’ll learn more about past, present, and future of aircrafts, rockets, missiles, spacecrafts, and more. With a planetarium and IMAX theatre available to further their understanding, students will feel even more sure about their potential future career.
National Museum of Natural History
For those more so leaning towards the “S” in STEM, the National Museum of Natural History takes students on a scientific journey to every corner of the globe. For future archeologists with a fascination with fossils to the future veterinarian that’s passionate about animal biodiversity, this museum with larger than life artifacts will encourage students to learn more about themselves and the world around them.
National Gallery of Art
Lastly, for students seeking a creative space, the National Gallery of Art is home to classic and modern art. As much as students have heard the names of artists like “Da Vinci,” they’ll finally witness his and other’s original works. Photographs, paintings, sculptures, and drawings take up the massive space, allowing students to observe the progression of art from the Middle Ages to the present day.
When you recount American history, there’s no way to leave out Native Americans, African Americans, and Jewish-Americans. Students in Washington D.C. have a variety of cultural museums at their disposal, namely the National Museum of the American Indian, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the United States Holocaust Museum. Each venue has interactive displays and artifacts that bring a troubled history to life, creating a sense of empathy and understanding in students.
Of the three museums, the Holocaust Museum is the most interactive. At the beginning of the tour, students receive an identification card of someone who experienced the Holocaust. Students get updates on the status of the person they received throughout the visit, ultimately discovering what their fate was at the end of the tour.
International Spy Museum
To keep things light yet informative, a trip to the International Spy Museum is a great way to break up a jam-packed day. The museum sports five floors of interactive displays that put students inside the world of espionage. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the “spy card” that each student would receive at the beginning of their tour. Throughout the museum, students insert their spy cards into various computers where they’re tasked with completing challenges between displays. At the end of the visit, their best skills and what type of spy they’d be are revealed.
Along the way, students witness films, artifacts, timelines, and readings that date back from the American Revolution, all the way to the present day. Students get as close as possible to a first-hand account of how and why these spies were used.
National Archive Museum
Have you been quizzing your child or student on the amendments but just can’t seem to get through? Perhaps seeing the original copies of the Bill of Rights, Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence will help them retain the information. On this tour, students learn or are reminded of the major role each of the founding documents plays in how our nation is governed today.
These museums are just the beginning of a lengthy list of exciting museums in Washington D.C. that help bring the classroom to life. The best part is, students can explore these gems at little to no charge.