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“Nice collection in a nice museum”

National Museum of African Art
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Ranked #93 of 444 things to do in Washington DC
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Owner description: Part of the Smithsonian Institution that concentrates on crafts and objects from the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
Arlington, Virginia
Level 6 Contributor
504 reviews
199 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 239 helpful votes
“Nice collection in a nice museum”
Reviewed May 4, 2014

The Museum of African Art is an interesting multi-level museum. It is newer and nicer than many of the other Smithsonian museums, and it is also much less crowded. There are some nice niches, alcoves and interior courtyards where you can just enjoy some quiet time in a nice setting away from the crowds.

I have no knowledge of African Art, but there seemed to be a lot of it from a lot of different countries and time periods, with art ranging from hundreds of years old to contemporary works. I do feel that the museum could do a better job of orienting visitors to different African art styles and regions, as I suspect many visitors are like me and have much limited knowledge about African geography, history and art. Still, I enjoyed the many interesting pieces here, and there is certainly plenty of information about the pieces on display.

On the whole, the museum and the collection are a nice change of pace from the traditional museums with gallery after gallery of classical paintings and sculptures.

Visited May 2014
Thank Brendan S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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180 reviews from our community

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Tustin, California
Level 6 Contributor
482 reviews
300 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 483 helpful votes
“Top-notch African art; easy to see everything in one visit”
Reviewed May 2, 2014

The National Museum of African Art is a must-see for all who enjoy, or are curious about, African art. I have a small collection of African Art, and I am determined not to miss this museum whenever I am visiting D.C.

The museum is not huge; however, the artwork is top quality. The rooms are well laid out and well-lit, and walking in the galleries is easy as there never seems to be many people visiting the museum when I am there. The collection is quite strong in a number of categories, my favorites being masks and reliquary figures. Some of the latter are stupendous, with mind-blowing works from the Kota and Fang tribes. Aside from the art-rich countries of equatorial west Africa, the horn of Africa is also represented by some impressive paintings and religious artifacts from Ethiopia.

Visited April 2014
Thank Jim L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Spring, Texas
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Classic and Modern”
Reviewed April 19, 2014

This museum is free and is located within the Smithsonian district of museums. It is easily accessible from Metro at either the Smithsonian or L'Entrant Stations. Inside the museum are 3 sub-levels of exhibits. Each level features different exhibits. I enjoyed viewing the various African masks, head-dresses, and jewelry. There was also a featured exhibits of photographs taken during a photographer's journey from South Africa up to North Africa. A contemporary or modern exhibit of interpretive art. This form of art can be a too much for a child, which teeters on scary, bizarre, or just down right unnerving. Nevertheless, this is a museum worth seeing and a visit to the gift shop for unique items.

Visited April 2014
1 Thank Kayshelle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Mitchell, Kentucky
Level 6 Contributor
102 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
“Easy and Interesting”
Reviewed April 11, 2014

As previous reviews mention, it is a smaller museum so its not that difficult to get through in a short period of time. Very cool artwork once inside. Really cool masks and carvings. Plus some of the beaded pieces were amazing. Just thinking of how long it must have taken to make some of those makes my fingers hurt. Just like all of the Smithsonian Museums, the African Art Museum is free so that makes it that much better

Visited April 2014
Thank aroutte2003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, PA
Level 5 Contributor
72 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Interesting museum”
Reviewed December 1, 2013

My family (husband and three kids 7, 5, and 3) visited this museum while staying in DC. The museum was small enough that we could see everything in about an hour. After you walk in, the whole collection is underground. It's not the most kid-friendly museum to choose from but since my 5-year old really wanted to go, we went. They do have a family guide and a 'Can You Find This?' card for the kids, which mine really enjoyed. The art was beautiful and even the little ones enjoyed looking at it. We couldn't find a museum map, which was a little annoying, but they do have directories posted by the elevators.

Visited November 2013
Thank Mandersmm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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