Things to Know: National Museum of American History

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If you are heading to Washington DC this summer, you don’t want to miss the National Museum of American History. This museum is not only home to the original Stars & Stripes, President Lincoln’s hat and George Washington’s uniform, but also houses things like Muhammed Ali’s boxing gloves, Bert & Ernie and the dresses worn by the First Ladies. Grab your printable highlights guide, a fully charged camera or phone and get ready to see some of the most fascinating pieces of American history.

Things to Know: National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History is a large museum and can swallow up more time than you plan. So take a look at the clock when you arrive and check carefully to see when they close so you can spend plenty of time at the major highlights!

We entered from the back side entrance where the crowds were smaller. Remember that the main entrance from the National Mall is going to be busier because the tour buses stop with their school tours.

Back Entrance to the American History Museum

From this entrance, you are greeted by the LEGO Statue of Liberty and the small exhibit hall.

Highlights of the National Museum of American History

You definitely don’t want to miss the Star Spangled Banner on display in it’s own exhibit area. You are not allowed to take pictures of the actual flag but it is something to remember!

The Star Spangled Banner Exhibit
President Lincoln’s Hat

Take the time to see George Washington’s Uniform,

George Washington’s Uniform

and Thomas Jefferson’s writing desk.

Jefferson’s Writing desk

“John Bull” Locomotive

“John Bull” Locomotive

“John Bull,” one of the earliest steam locomotives in the United States, was imported from England in 1831 for the Camden & Amboy Rail Road, the first rail link between New York and Philadelphia. The engine tended to derail on uneven American tracks, but a set of guide wheels attached to the front of the locomotive solved the problem.

The locomotive was brought to the Smithsonian in 1884 and has been on view at the National Museum of American History since the Museum opened in 1964.

Some of our Favorites…

The mission of the Museum is to help people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future.


Muhammed Ali’s Boxing Gloves

Recognize any of this historic American icons?

There is a whole exhibit of the Presidential First Ladies dresses that you don’t want to miss.

Martha Washington’s Dress

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Find the Highlights at the Smithsonian Museums

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Have you visited the National Museum of American History? What is your favorite exhibit? I’d love to hear!

Heading to Washington DC? Check out these other helpful articles to help you plan your visit.

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