Constructed of Seneca red sandstone in a faux Norman style that combines elements of late Romanesque and early Gothic architecture, Smithsonian Institution Building houses a visitor center and the administrative offices of over a dozen specialized museums. Nicknamed the "Castle" and finished in 1855, this building consists of a central section, two extensions, and two wings. Four large and five smaller towers are primarily decorative. Two galleries on the second floor contain the visitor information area, which offers free Wi-Fi, interactive displays, and maps. Use the visitor center's computers to find answers to most common questions about this complex of museums, or walk through the northern entrance to visit the tomb of the institution's founder, chemist and mineralogist James Smithson. Plan to visit Smithsonian Institution Building and other customer-reviewed, writer-recommended Washington DC attractions using our Washington DC itinerary planning site.
Smithsonian Institution Building reviews
The Smithsonian Castle is one of the many Smithsonian buildings located on the Mall. It is fun to view with its unique architecture and the beautiful garden that surround the Castle. Often times... more »
This is a very cool building that looks like a castle. It's right on the mall and has nice gardens behind it. It is worth checking out. more »
One of the most beautiful buildings in WDC. Es precioso este edificio!!!!
The Smithsonian Institution Building, located near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. behind the National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery, houses the Smithsonian Institution's administrative offices and information center. The building is constructed of Seneca red sandstone in the Norman Revival style (a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs; built in the Gothic and Romanesque revival styles) and is nicknamed The Castle. It was completed in 1855 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. The Castle was the first Smithsonian building, designed by architect James Renwick, Jr., whose other works include St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, also in Washington D.C. The building committee held a nationwide design competition in 1846 and selected Renwick's design by a unanimous vote. A cardboard model of Renwick's winning design survives and is on display in the Castle. Renwick was assisted by Robert Mills, particularly in the internal arrangement of the building.
Plan your trip to Washington DC
Get a personalized tripA complete day by day itinerary
based on your preferences
Customize itRefine your trip. We'll find the
best routes and schedules
Manage itEverything in one place.
Everyone on the same page.
Popular things to do in Washington DC
Museums in Washington DC
Hidden gems in Washington DC
Side trips from Washington DC
Historic Sites in Washington DC
Trips to Smithsonian Institution Building by other users
24 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES Washington DC Shenandoah National Park Fayetteville 6 days in Washington DC BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens Torpedo Factory Art Center Old Town 4 days in Washington DC BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National World War II Memorial International Spy Museum 25 days in Baltimore BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES White House National Portrait Gallery The National Archives Museum 4 days in Washington DC BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES National Museum of the Marine Corps Old Town Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception 31 days in Washington DC BY A USER FROM MALAYSIA Mary Livingston Ripley Garden National Air and Space Museum National Museum of the American Indian