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Smithsonian Institution Building

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Neighborhood: National Mall
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Address: 1000 Jefferson Drive SW, Washington DC, DC 20013-7012
Phone Number: 202 633 1000
Website
Today
8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Closed now
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Hours:
Sun - Sat 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Fee: No
Activities: City walk sightseeing
Description: The world's largest museum and research complex is actually comprised of...
The world's largest museum and research complex is actually comprised of 19 museums and the National Zoo, with subjects that vary from African Art to the postal service, sculpture to space exploration.
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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

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    Very good
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  • 37
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    Terrible
Cool building with an English garden on one side

This is a neat building sometimes referred to as the Castle and looks a bit like some old Norman castle. It was the original Smithsonian Museum but is now sort of the Smithsonian... read more

4 of 5 starsReviewed April 27, 2015
unclelouie
,
Minnesota
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2,686 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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WEST YORKS
Top Contributor
534 reviews 534 reviews
84 attraction reviews
239 helpful votes 239 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2015

Yes there are items of historical interest and some artefacts that bring history to life. There are a number of good museums in the area so maybe prioritise your visit and others may appeal. There is a good gift shop with some interesting souvenirs.

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New York City, New York
Top Contributor
759 reviews 759 reviews
333 attraction reviews
528 helpful votes 528 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2015

James Smithson, the illegitimate son of an English Duke, was born in France in mid-18th Century as James Macie (the name of his mother). He became naturalized British subject at the age of ten. After his parents death, he changed his name to Smithson, after his father. He was quite interested in science and was accepted as member of the... More 

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Minnesota
Top Contributor
508 reviews 508 reviews
339 attraction reviews
652 helpful votes 652 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2015

This is a neat building sometimes referred to as the Castle and looks a bit like some old Norman castle. It was the original Smithsonian Museum but is now sort of the Smithsonian HQ with a small museum that shows what you can see in each of the other museums, gives advice, offers an occasional tour, and has a small... More 

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New Jersey
Top Contributor
107 reviews 107 reviews
15 attraction reviews
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2015

There is a good gift shop, information area is helpful and there are some interesting displays. I could not say anything as to dislike.

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Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
27 attraction reviews
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2015

The Smithsonian Institution Building is a very nice place to drop in for a quick look around; it isn't somewhere to spend hours or a whole day at. The main attraction is the gorgeous architecture- if you like the outside, make sure to go inside as it's equally as impressive. There are a few small displays in the back but... More 

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Costas
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
25 attraction reviews
132 helpful votes 132 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2015

We didn not have a clue how this great bunch of museums started and a quick visit to the castle gave us most of waht we wanted to know. Small but well laid out.

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Tulsa, Oklahoma
Top Contributor
84 reviews 84 reviews
24 attraction reviews
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2015

We didn't have time to tour building, but did take stroll through gardens. Plenty of places to sit and enjoy the serene surroundings.

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Farmington Hills, Michigan, United States
Top Contributor
97 reviews 97 reviews
20 attraction reviews
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2015

Very stately history filled building, informative exhibits and a nice cafe for a sandwich and beverage before a lengthy visit to the Freer-Sackler Art Galleries. The gardens are breathtaking ... Frilly white tulips bordered by deep violet flowers .. Oh my, just beautiful and inviting to enter Smithsonian Castle.

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Northwich, United Kingdom
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185 reviews 185 reviews
44 attraction reviews
249 helpful votes 249 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2015

Possibly one of the most expensive sandwich lunches on our US trip served by not the happiest of staff either from the counter or behind the till however the gardens and gallery are excellent. We ate in the gardens still full of blossom on a sunny April afternoon whilst the world went by - the guard was one of the... More 

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Top Contributor
56 reviews 56 reviews
12 attraction reviews
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2015

We stopped here during a cold spell to stay warm and were glad we did. Its the original building in the Smithsonian, whe it all started. We were impressed to learn the history of Mr. Smithson. Its relatively small and has only a few attraction but if you want to learn about the history of the Smithsonia, its worth a... More 

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  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
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  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?