Washington D.C..deserves to be on the summer bucket list even if you have been there before. It’s fun to visit longtime favorite places such as the National Museum of American History, which BTW still features First Ladies Dresses.
But if interested in the hit “Hamilton” show you will find a couple of outstanding new exhibits there with similar themes: “American Democracy: A great leap of faith” and “Many Voices One Nation.” Both open June 28, 2017.
However, save time to visit two other very special places: the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Newseum.
Similar to the phrase about visiting Alaska that as beautiful as you’ve heard it is, it’s even better, the National Museum of African American History and Culture surpasses expectations. Its architecture, interior layout and exhibits are extraordinary.
Bronze lattice-work wraps the building’s top, visible layers and huge walls, ramps and intimate galleries fill the museum’s structure below ground. For an idea of what the collections and exhibit contain download the museum’s mobile app.
The museum is conveniently located across 14th Street from the National Museum of American History.
At the Newseum, no matter what your politics are, you will find hands-on exhibits that show how attitudes have changed and headlines have called attention to momentous events. And you are likely to leave with a better understanding of the phrase “freedom of the press.”
There is always a terrific new exhibit up on the Level 6. If in D.C. before the end of July, see “Louder than words: Rock Power and Politics.” Headlines, music and artifacts form the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Newseum show the role that rock and roll music and musicians played in movements around the world and in U.S. presidencies.
The Newseum is across from the National Gallery of Art and south of the Capitol.
What you need to know
The National African American musem, Madison Drive and 14th Street, is free but there has been such a crush to see it that entry is only by timed tickets. Advance entry tickets are available monthly but that means waiting to Jul5 5, 2017 when October tickets will be offered beginning at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Day-of timed tickets go online starting at 6:30 a.m. ET every day until gone. Some walk-in entries are available at beginning at 1 p.m. ET weekdays only at the Madison Drive entrance.
Tickets to the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. at 6th Street, are discounted by 15% if bought in advance (age 6 and under free) and are discounted 10% day of at the counter for military, college students and AAA members with ID cards.
Tips to negotiating the two museums
The National African American museum, often referred to as the NMAAHC, is basically divided in half with the bottom portion sinking down into the ground covering the history of blacks in America and the top half featuring black contributions in music, sports, theater and other areas.
Best plan is to take an elevator down and then another elevator all the way down to lowest C designation to begin with early history, then walk up the ramps through the build-outs of historic events, film clips, and important collection items back to the main floor. From there, take an elevator up to the top level (designated L with numbers).
The museum’s Sweet Home Café is excellent and offers a good break between the lower and upper sections. Plan to spend at least half a day at the museum.
At the Newseum visitors often check out the exhibit labels next to a main floor elevator or on the map picked up at the entry counter. However, best plan is to take the escalator down to the concourse level and walk over to the glass express elevator. It goes non-stop to Level 6 which is a good place to see special exhibits, take a photo outside of the U.S. Capitol north of the Newseum on Constitution Avenue.
Back inside walk to the south end of Level 6 to see the current special exhibit. Then go down a level to the expansive theater area where relevant special exhibit film clips are shown.
Continue walking down or taking an elevator to the exhibits on each floor. Among other attractions, there is a 9-11 section, the FBI Today, “1967: Civil Rights at 50,” an interactive newsroom and a section on the Internet, TV and Radio.
A café is on the concourse level near the glass elevator. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours at the museum.