The Anderson House, near Dupont Circle, is a 55-room mansion dedicated to Revolutionary War-era mementos.
Fri, Apr 16, 2010
Tiny D.C. Museums, Big Impact
These four Washington-area museums make up in intrigue what they lack in size.
Quirky and stirring, these small museums are bound to generate conversation for visitors—or those who are willing to break out of their comfort zone on the National Mall.
The Anderson House (2118 Massachusetts Ave., NW, D.C.; 202/785-2040 x 427; societyofthecincinnati.org). This Dupont Circle home is the headquarters of the Society of Cincinnati—an organization dedicated to remembering the Revolutionary War—and is worth a visit, if not just to gawk at the late Anderson’s obvious wealth. The 55-room mansion features Revolutionary War mementos, including paintings, weaponry and personal artifacts from American soldiers. View the Anderson’s personal collections of Asian sculptures and imperial gifts from the emperor and empress of Japan, or relax in the English drawing room, dominated by portraits from world-renowned 18th-century British artists. [img credit: Society of the Cincinatti]
Details: Guided tours Tuesdays through Saturdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Group tours for more than 10 available by reservation. Call ahead for availability, since house can be closed for the Society’s meetings. Free.
The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum (144 Constitution Ave., NE, D.C.; 202/546-1210; sewallbelmont.org). The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, the only museum in D.C. dedicated to educating the public about women’s suffrage, is the former residence of internationally known women’s rights activist Alice Paul. The museum, also the headquarters of the National Woman’s Party, displays historical collections detailing the suffrage movement, including photographs of suffragists, original banners from picketing lines and the key to the D.C. prison where some suffragists were held. The historical landmark also houses the Florence Bayard Hilles Feminist Library, for those who want to learn more about women’s history on a larger scale, and offers information on Paul’s un-adopted Equal Rights Amendment.
Details: Open Wednesday through Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Suggested donation of $5.
The Drug Enforcement Administration Museum (700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, Va.; 202/307-8956; deamuseum.org). If D.A.R.E. didn’t work for you as a kid, this museum will. Located directly across from the Pentagon City Mall, this small museum educates its visitors on the history of drugs, addiction and drug law enforcement. What’s particularly interesting is an exhibit on prescription drugs and how the government attempts to crack down on illegal uses of these readily available medications. The museum also explores the history of illegal drugs and drug epidemics—notably through 19th-century opium dens, the 1960s beatnik craze and Columbia cocaine cartels throughout the 1980s. Don’t be surprised if you get a sudden urge to bust someone, especially if you snag any of the kitschy DEA badges available in the gift shop. (But please, leave it to the pros.)
Details: Open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Monday, Saturday, Sunday. Free.
National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum (600 Dulany St., Alexandria, Va.; 571/272-0095; invent.org/hall_of_fame/1_5_0_museum.asp). Hoping to someday be a household name? These inventors—or at least their products—are. An interactive Hall of Fame features more than 400 different inventors that visitors can learn about, including the inventor of the TV remote, frozen food and the Zamboni. A new exhibit shows how some of these inventions led to greater ones, allowing the viewer to do a bit of detective work to figure out the links. An interactive portrait gallery of President Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison that “come to life” to interact with audiences is also among the museum’s exhibits.
Details: Open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Sundays and federal holidays. Free.