Things to Do

These DC Museums Will Be Free on Museum Day in April

Photograph by Emily Haight, National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Update: The Smithsonian announced March 12 that Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day will no longer take place on April 4 due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. The institution announced that all its public programming would be canceled or postponed until May 3.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Dumbarton House for free, now’s your chance. The historic Georgetown home is one of six local institutions that will open its doors to visitors at no charge for Smithsonian Magazine‘s annual Museum Day on Saturday, April 4.

Across the country, museums, zoos and other cultural centers will participate in offering free admission, emulating DC’s Smithsonian museums. This year, the majority of participating Washington institutions are actually free every day, including the DAR Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, and the United States Botanic Garden.

However, there are a couple museums that will waive their usual entry fees. Dumbarton House, which was built in 1799, features rotating exhibits on early Washington. On Museum Day, visitors can learn about previous residents Joseph Nourse, the first Register of the US Treasury, and his wife Maria, who lived there in the early 1800s. The first floor of the house is decorated to reflect what the couple liked. Upstairs, there are special displays on the history of alcohol consumption in the Federal period, the women who lived and worked at the house, and more.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is also participating, where visitors can view artists like Delita Martin, whose large-scale, multimedia prints are grounded in African traditions, and photographer Graciela Iturbide, who documents daily life and social inequality in Mexico. Alexandria’s Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden and Ben Lomond Historic Site in Manassas will also be free that day.

Though all the museums will have free entry, tickets are required and can be downloaded online. Each ticket is good for one person, and grants you access to any Museum Day participant.

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Nathan Diller
Editorial Fellow

Nathan is an editorial fellow at Washingtonian. Originally from Nashville, he graduated from Columbia Journalism School with a master’s degree in 2019. His work has also appeared in SPIN, NYLON, and Nashville Lifestyles.