The Most Popular Museum in DC: Ranking the City's Iconic Cultural Destination

Choose the museum you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 16, 2024 07:22
Step right up and join the ultimate showdown of the most popular museums in Washington DC! Here at StrawPoll, we've curated a list of the top contenders, and now it's your turn to decide which cultural powerhouse reigns supreme. Will the time-honored Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum soar above the rest? Or will the enigmatic International Spy Museum steal the spotlight? Perhaps the National Museum of American History will claim its rightful place in the annals of popularity? Dive into this engaging ranking, cast your vote for your favorite, or suggest a hidden gem that deserves recognition. Unleash your inner curator and help us determine the ultimate champion in the battle of DC's museum prestige!

What Is the Most Popular Museum in DC?

  1. 1
    65
    votes
    This museum is the most visited museum in DC, attracting over 7 million visitors annually. It is known for its extensive collection of animal and plant specimens, as well as exhibits on human evolution and cultural artifacts.
    The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is one of the most popular museums located in Washington, D.C. It is dedicated to showcasing the diverse natural history of the Earth, including its plants, animals, minerals, and human cultures. The museum offers a wide range of exhibits and educational programs to engage visitors of all ages in the exploration and understanding of the natural world.
    • Location: Washington, D.C.
    • Size: Approximately 1.5 million square feet
    • Collection: Over 145 million specimens and artifacts
    • Exhibits: Permanent and changing exhibits on topics such as dinosaurs, mammals, human evolution, gemstones, and ecosystems
    • Highlights: The Hope Diamond, Hall of Fossils, Hall of Gems and Minerals, Sant Ocean Hall
  2. 2
    43
    votes
    Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
    David Bjorgen · CC BY-SA 3.0

    Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

    The Smithsonian Institution
    This museum is the second most visited museum in DC, attracting over 6 million visitors annually. It is known for its collection of aircraft and spacecraft, including the Wright Brothers' plane and the Apollo 11 command module.
    The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is a world-renowned museum located in Washington, D.C., dedicated to the preservation and display of artifacts related to the history of aviation and space exploration. It is one of the most popular museums in the city and attracts millions of visitors each year.
    • Location: Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C., United States
    • Size: 161,145 square feet
    • Exhibits: Over 60,000 artifacts including aircraft, spacecraft, rockets, and related items
    • Inaugurated: July 1, 1976
    • Visitors per year: Approximately 6 million
  3. 3
    22
    votes
    Smithsonian National Museum of American History
    G. Edward Johnson · CC BY-SA 3.0

    Smithsonian National Museum of American History

    Congress of the United States
    This museum is dedicated to showcasing the history of the United States, with exhibits on everything from the American Revolution to pop culture. It attracts over 4 million visitors annually.
    The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is a famous museum located in Washington, D.C. It is dedicated to exploring the history, culture, and accomplishments of the United States. The museum showcases a wide range of artifacts and exhibits that capture various aspects of American history, from the country's early years to the present day. It offers visitors an immersive experience through interactive displays, engaging exhibitions, and educational programs.
    • Location: Washington, D.C.
    • Opening Year: 1964
    • Size: Approximately 393,000 square feet
    • Number of Exhibits: Over 1.8 million objects
    • Exhibit Themes: American democracy, transportation, science and innovation, pop culture, military history, etc.
    Smithsonian National Museum of American History in other rankings
  4. 4
    17
    votes
    This museum opened in 2016 and has quickly become one of the most popular museums in DC, attracting over 2 million visitors annually. It is dedicated to showcasing the history and culture of African Americans in the United States.
    The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is a renowned museum located in Washington, D.C. It is dedicated to showcasing the history, culture, and contributions of African Americans in the United States.
    • Location: Washington, D.C.
    • Opening Year: 2016
    • Exhibit Space: 350,000 square feet
    • Collection Size: more than 40,000 objects
    • Exhibits: Over 3,500 artifacts on display
  5. 5
    13
    votes
    This museum is dedicated to honoring the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and educating the public about the dangers of genocide. It attracts over 1.7 million visitors annually.
    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a museum in Washington, D.C. that commemorates the Holocaust, the genocide of six million Jews and millions of other victims during World War II. The museum serves as a national memorial to remember and honor the victims of the Holocaust and educate visitors about the history and consequences of genocide.
    • Location: Washington, D.C.
    • Opening Date: 1993
    • Architect: James Ingo Freed
    • Size: Approximately 267,000 square feet
    • Exhibits: Permanent and temporary exhibitions showcasing artifacts, photos, and personal stories of the Holocaust
  6. 6
    11
    votes
    Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
    Bobak Ha'Eri · CC BY 3.0
    Congress of the United States
    This museum is dedicated to showcasing portraits of important figures in American history and culture. It attracts over 1 million visitors annually.
    The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery is a renowned museum located in Washington, D.C. It is dedicated to preserving and showcasing portraiture art that reflects the history, culture, and individuals who have shaped America. The gallery's collection spans over 450,000 portraits, ranging from classical paintings to contemporary photography.
    • Facilities: Cafe, gift shop, research center, and auditorium
    • Admission: Free
    • Location: Washington, D.C.
    • Size: 121,917 square feet (11,329.6 m²)
    • Year Established: 1962
  7. 7
    8
    votes
    Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
    Gryffindor · Public domain
    This museum is known for its collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. It attracts over 700,000 visitors annually.
    The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a modern and contemporary art museum located in Washington, D.C. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution and houses a diverse collection of artworks from the 19th century to the present. The museum's unique circular building and outdoor sculpture garden make it a distinctive landmark in the city.
    • Location: Independence Avenue at 7th Street SW, Washington, D.C.
    • Architectural Style: Modernist
    • Year Opened: 1974
    • Building Shape: Circular
    • Exhibition Space: Approximately 60,000 square feet
    Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in other rankings
  8. 8
    14
    votes
    This museum is dedicated to the history of journalism and the First Amendment. It features exhibits on everything from the Watergate scandal to the rise of social media. It attracts over 500,000 visitors annually.
    The Newseum is an interactive museum in Washington, D.C. that focuses on the history, advancements, and impact of media and journalism. It showcases the various forms of media from newspapers to broadcast to digital platforms, offering visitors an immersive and educational experience.
    • Location: 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
    • Size: 250,000 square feet
    • Floors: 7
    • Exhibit Space: 15 galleries and 15 theaters
    • Artifacts: Over 35,000 historic newspapers and significant journalism artifacts
  9. 9
    9
    votes
    International Spy Museum
    Farragutful · CC BY-SA 4.0
    This museum is dedicated to the history of espionage, with exhibits on everything from the Cold War to modern cyber threats. It attracts over 400,000 visitors annually.
    The International Spy Museum is a popular museum located in Washington, D.C. It showcases the fascinating world of espionage and intelligence operations throughout history. The museum offers interactive exhibits, artifacts, and educational programs to engage visitors in the world of spies and secret agents.
    • Location: 800 F St NW, Washington, D.C.
    • Size: Approximately 140,000 square feet
    • Exhibit Themes: Espionage, intelligence, and spy techniques
    • Exhibit Highlights: Enigma machine, disguises, code-breaking devices, spy gadgets
    • Interactive Exhibits: Cipher challenge, lie detector tests, laser maze
  10. 10
    8
    votes

    National Museum of Women in the Arts

    Wilhelmina Cole Holladay
    This museum is dedicated to showcasing the contributions of women artists throughout history. It attracts over 200,000 visitors annually.
    The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is an art museum located in Washington, D.C. dedicated exclusively to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing, and literary arts. The museum showcases over 5,000 works of art by women artists from around the world, spanning multiple centuries and artistic styles.
    • Location: Washington, D.C.
    • Year Established: 1987
    • Collection Size: Over 5,000 artworks
    • Artistic Mediums: Paintings, sculptures, photographs, decorative arts, and more
    • Exhibition Space: Over 80,000 square feet

Missing your favorite museum?

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Ranking factors for popular museum

  1. Number of visitors
    The number of annual visitors to the museum is a strong indicator of its popularity. Museums with high foot traffic are often considered more popular.
  2. Online reviews and ratings
    Websites like TripAdvisor and Google Maps provide user ratings and reviews for museums. A higher average rating and positive reviews generally indicate a museum's popularity.
  3. Prestige and reputation
    The reputation and recognition of a museum in the world of art and culture can impact its popularity. Museums that house famous artworks, historical artifacts, or cutting-edge exhibitions are likely to be more popular among visitors and locals alike.
  4. Social media presence and engagement
    Museums with a high level of social media activity, engagement, and followings can be considered more popular, as it indicates that people are actively interested in and discussing the museum.
  5. Media coverage
    The amount of media coverage a museum receives, including articles, news stories, and documentaries, can influence its popularity.
  6. Accessibility and location
    Museums situated in easily accessible areas or near other popular attractions in DC can attract more visitors, increasing their overall popularity.
  7. Educational programs and events
    Museums offering various programs, workshops, and events that cater to a wide range of interests and age groups can enhance the visitor experience and increase popularity.
  8. Size and variety of exhibits
    Museums with extensive or diverse collections tend to be more popular than smaller, niche museums. Visitors often prefer large museums with a wide selection of exhibits, allowing them to spend more time exploring different topics and historical periods.
  9. Awards and recognition
    Recognition from prestigious organizations or receiving awards can highlight a museum's quality and popularity.
  10. History and significance
    Museums with historical or cultural significance often hold greater importance and attract more visitors, thus making them more popular. This might include housing essential national objects or being associated with prominent figures or events in history.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular museum in DC. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or museum is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!

Statistics

  • 1399 views
  • 210 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each museum once every 24 hours. The rank of each museum is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

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More information on most popular museum in dc

Washington D.C. is home to some of the most iconic museums in the world, and visitors from around the globe flock to the city to experience the rich cultural offerings. From art to history to science, there's something for everyone in D.C.'s museum scene. But with so many options to choose from, which one stands out as the most popular? In this article, we'll take a closer look at the top contenders and explore what makes them so special. Whether you're a local looking for a new favorite spot or a tourist planning your next trip, read on to find out which museum takes the crown in D.C.

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