Smithsonian Institution Building, Washington DC

4.5
#5 of 54 in Historic Sites in Washington DC
Castle · Hidden Gem · Government Building
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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.
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Smithsonian Institution Building reviews

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4.5
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  • Be sure to stop at the original Smithsonian Institution Building (commonly called the Castle) before going on to the individual museums. It provides a nice history of the overall institution and a... 
    Be sure to stop at the original Smithsonian Institution Building (commonly called the Castle) before going on to the individual museums. It provides a nice history of the overall institution and a...  more »
  • Such a cool building and the gardens are amazing! When the design of a building was also meant to inspire. Nice little cafe and small exhibit space; perfect for relaxing after visiting one of the... 
    Such a cool building and the gardens are amazing! When the design of a building was also meant to inspire. Nice little cafe and small exhibit space; perfect for relaxing after visiting one of the...  more »
Google
  • Centrally located on the National Mall, the "Castle" serves as an information center for the Smithsonian Museums. Free to the public, you will find info about all the museums and the National Zoo. You have access to restrooms, snack area, big hall with seating and wifi accessible. The unique architectural design sets it apart from some other museums and buildings. During the hot summer months, a great place for relief, while touring the National Mall grounds.
  • Nice jumping off place to understand what the Smithsonian collection is all about. They offer some small examples of each of the larger collections has to offer so you can better gauge which museums make the most sense. The staff was friendly and the facilities were kept very neat. Recommended.

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