Folger Shakespeare Library

The Folger, a little pocket of Elizabethan England on Capitol Hill, is both respite from the D.C. tourist circuit’s unbridled patriotism and a chance to experience Shakespeare’s era without the poor hygiene and rampant disease. The library itself is open only to researchers; the masses must be satisfied with a period theater and the rotating […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | November 1, 2012

Carlyle House

How does a nouveau riche Scottish immigrant in Colonial Alexandria tell the world he’s arrived? By building a giant stone house when everyone else is still using wood or brick. That’s what John Carlyle did, though locals didn’t know how to build with stone, so it took three years. Today, the home is restored to […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | October 25, 2012

Renwick Gallery

A branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Renwick is devoted to crafts and decorative arts objects — stuff that’s theoretically useful and made of fiber, wood, metal, clay or glass. For example, while you probably shouldn’t drink from “Crazy Quilt Silhouette Wizard Teapot,” you could. Picture a Macy’s housewares department run by Hieronymus […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | October 11, 2012

Congressional Cemetery

This is neither a scary place nor a sad one. Dogs frolic. Sun shines. All tour options — self-guided, cellphone and docent-led — introduce death-defying personalities: madam Mary Hall, Declaration of Independence-signer Elbridge Gerry, Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, a random woman who wanted her tomb to look like a china cabinet, etc. The blocky […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | October 4, 2012

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

This tavern, built around 1785, was a gathering place for dudes who wanted to smoke, debate and occasionally brawl, then cram eight to a room upstairs, where they shared mattresses, chamber pots and bedbugs. George Washington and other luminaries worked, dined and slept here also, albeit in the nicer rooms. A hotel was added in […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | September 27, 2012

Library of Congress

What you won’t see: books. At least, not many. What you will see is an explosion of classical and Renaissance decor glorifying all things knowledge-related: Greek and Roman gods, allegorical figures, torchbearers, great men of the arts and sciences, stern exhortations to study. Welcome to the Thomas Jefferson Building, the piece of the Library of […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | September 20, 2012

Netherlands Carillon

Imagine church bells played as nimbly as handbells and with as much nuance as a piano. That’s the sound of a carillon, an instrument made of 50 bells connected to a clavier (keyboard) and foot pedals. The Dutch gave this 127-foot-tall tower to the U.S. as thanks for aid during and after World War II. […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | September 13, 2012

DAR Museum

Here at their headquarters, the Daughters of the American Revolution express their love of the USA in the language of home decor. Galleries of artifacts donated by members and 31 period rooms, each representing a state, purpose and style, stand up for such evergreen ideals as knickknack collecting, bold color palettes and indestructible wood furniture. […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | September 6, 2012

Sewall-Belmont House

It’s been fewer than 100 years since American women gained the right to vote. That’s what the National Woman’s Party, headquartered here since 1929, wants you to remember. The NWP championed women’s suffrage (achieved) and the Equal Rights Amendment (not achieved). Its arsenal: protest, pageantry and shrewd lobbying. Now the organization runs this museum, an […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | August 30, 2012

Natl. Museum of Health & Medicine

A not-sad consequence of modern medicine is that there are fewer disease-mangled tissue samples for pathologists to study. That’s one reason this museum’s collection is so valuable: Bloated, gnarled legs from elephantiasis victims are hard to come by these days. The collection got started in 1862, when the surgeon general ordered Army medical officers to […]

By Explore D.C. | Exhibits | August 23, 2012