Bride & Groom MOM Subscribe

Find Local

After Hours Blog > Miscellaneous

Beat the Heat With a Trip to a Museum

If you’re one of the unlucky residents without power, get out of the house and into one of the following (air-conditioned!) museums.

Cool off at the National Building Museum, open until 5. Photograph by Randy Pertiet.

Last weekend’s derecho caused high winds and torrential rains to wipe out power across the Washington area, and temperatures continue to climb toward 100 degrees. Power remains out at many homes and businesses across the area, so we know many of you are still facing the heat. Get out of the house and give yourself a cultural lesson—while soaking up as much A/C as you can—by visiting one of the area’s open museums and art galleries.

Smithsonian Institution

National Mall

Hours vary by location

All Smithsonian branches are open today, so stop by one of the institute’s 17 museums and galleries located in the District, including the Air and Space Museum, the American Indian Museum, the Museum of African Art, and the National Portrait Gallery. For a full list of hours, visit their website.


Pennsylvania Ave. and Sixth St., NW

Open 9 to 5

Check out what other cities were affected by last weekend’s storm by walking through the Newseum’s Front Page Gallery, which showcases the front pages of up to 80 newspapers from around the nation and the world. Summer bonus: Visitors under 18 get in free with each paid adult ticket (limit six kids). Read more at the Newseum’s website.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW

Last public entry is at 4:30 PM; museum closes at 5:30

On your visit to this free museum, be sure to stop by the permanent exhibition, “The Holocaust,” which presents the history of the murder of millions of Jews by the Nazi regime through artifacts, videos, and eyewitness testimony. Also take a peek at the propaganda used by Nazis to achieve power in “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.” For more information, visit the website.

Museum of Crime & Punishment

575 7th St., NW

Open until 7 PM

Learn what it takes to catch a criminal at this interactive museum, which features a history of crime exhibit, a simulated police station, and a crime lab. For more info, visit their website.

Madame Tussauds

1001 F St., NW

(corner of Tenth and F streets)

Open until 6 PM

Hang out with the stars this afternoon at Madame Tussaud’s, home of wax figures of everyone from Abraham Lincoln to J.Lo. Visit the Presidents Gallery for a little pre-Fourth of July fun and meet all 44. Find out more online

National Building Museum

401 F St., NW

Open until 5 PM

Visit the museum dedicated to architecture, design, and engineering, which is gearing up for an exhibition showcasing buildings from around the world made entirely out of Lego bricks (running through Labor Day)*. You can also check out the “House & Home” exhibit, which takes visitors on a journey through familiar and unusual homes from around the country. For more info, visit their website.

Mount Vernon Estate

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy

Alexandria, VA

Open until 5 PM

It’s easy to spend an entire day at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, which is open and unaffected by Friday’s freak thunderstorm. Tour the first President’s mansion, the outbuildings, and the expansive grounds. Breaks from exploring can be taken at the food court as well as the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, which serves lunch daily.

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center

8633 Colesville Rd.

Silver Spring

Heading to the movie theater on a hot summer’s day is a time-honored tradition. Catch an artsy matinee at this Silver Spring institution, currently showing Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel starring Dame Judi Dench.

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

105-107 S. Fairfax St.


Open until 5 PM

See where Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee went to fill their prescriptions at this family-run apothecary that has been at its Old Town Alexandria location since 1796. The museum is open for tours from 1 to 5 and features a collection of botanicals, handblown glass, medical equipment, and archival diaries and ledgers.

Alexandria Lyceum

201 S. Washington St.


Open until 5pm

History buffs can power up at this history museum, which documents Alexandria’s history from the time it was inhabited by Native Americans to the present. Those with particular interest in the Civil War will enjoy the rotating exhibit, “Occupied City: Life in Civil War Alexandria,” at the museum through September 2013.

National Children’s Museum

112 Waterfront St.

National Harbor, Maryland

Open until 5 PM

The newly minted National Children’s museum is the perfect place to let antsy kids explore while staying cool. Today, the Launch Zone will be facilitating the creation of firework art to celebrate Fourth of July from 11 to 6.

Dennis and Phillip Ratner Museum

10001 Old Georgetown Rd.


Open until 4 PM

See the work of local painter and sculptor Phillip Ratner as well as pieces by emerging artists on display at this Bethesda museum. Ratner is most famous for his sculptures at the Statue of Liberty and on Ellis Island, but his work at the museum is largely inspired by the Hebrew Bible, fairy tales, and children’s stories.

*This post has been updated from a previous version.

Read Next

Fourth of July Events in Washington

  • Guest

    Smithsonian Institution! Not Institute. Geez.

  • Tanya Pai

    You're so right; fixed. Must be our heat-addled brains!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular on Washingtonian

9 Restaurants Native Washingtonians Love (Even If No Else Does)

20 Great Walks Around Washington, DC

Dear New York Times: Here's a Better Way to Spend $100 on Washington Food

How a Fish Sandwich Became a Symbol of Shaw's Changes

How the Strange Story of Sweet Briar College's Founding Could End Up Saving the School

The 25 Best Inexpensive Restaurants in Washington

The Great Washington Bucket List: 50 Things Every Local Needs to Do

Court Orders Owner of Dupont Circle House to Stay Off Airbnb

This $13.5 Million McLean Castle Has a Four-Story Glass Elevator