6 Unique, Small Museums Worth Visiting in Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. is a city packed with history, grand sights, and monumental buildings. There is much to strain your sightseeing itinerary.  Sometimes all that grandeur can be a little overwhelming and you might want to opt for something a bit smaller. There are plenty of opportunities to add a more intimate experience to your day with one of these unique specialty museums:

Dumbarton Oaks Museum

1703 32nd Street NW, Washington DC

Specializing in three main areas: Pre-Columbian art, Byzantine art, and interior furnishings including a music room displaying tapestries, sculptures, and artworks alongside a 1926 Steinway. There is also a beautifully landscaped garden to wander – especially pretty when the spring trees are in bloom. Located in the Georgetown neighborhood, it was once a private home and was gifted to Harvard University in 1940. Make sure to time your visit to enjoy one of their   regular classical music concerts.

dunbarton oaks museum washington dc
Dunbarton Oaks Museum

Kreeger Museum

2401 Foxhall Rd NW, Washington DC

A smaller, more scaled down museum that still packs a big punch. You can get up close and personal with big names like Picasso, Cezanne, and Rodin without the big crowds. Step up and see the brushstrokes, then step back and get the big view. When you see the detail work, the effort, the strokes from the brush that created a work of art, it can be appreciated much more than seeing it reproduced on a postcard or t-shirt.

Abraham Rattner art at Kreeger Museum
Abraham Rattner "Storm Composition No.2"
Claud Monet "Arm of the Seine near Giverney in the Fog"

George Washington University Textile Museum

701 21st St. NW, Washington DC

Part of George Washington University, the Textile Museum contains textiles from all over the world – from ancient civilizations in Peru, India, and China to modern day creations. You may see a stitched sampler from the 1700s, a 1,000 year old Peruvian bag, or a turn of the century royal tunic from Cameroon. The museum is located just blocks away from the White House and the National Mall, and is also home to a collection filled with memorabilia documenting the evolution of Washington, D.C. including original letters from George Washington, original surveys, portraits, and artifacts.

displays at George Washington University Textile Museum
George Washington University Textile Museum

Heurich House Museum

1307 New Hampshire Ave, NW, Washington DC

Showcasing the power of beer. The Heurich House is an imposing old stone home built by a German immigrant who created an American beer empire – a true American success story. The Heurich House Museum can be enjoyed in several ways. If you love authentic gilded age interiors and a castle-like fascinating home with metal speaking tubes and an early burglar alarm system, you’ll enjoy a tour of the house. If you love the beer and would enjoy sipping your suds in a unique environment, they offer a “happy hour” where the gardens are opened up for use as a beer garden. Sit by the fire pit and enjoy your “Senate” beer or “Liberty” cider in the shadow of this historic home.

Heurich House Museum interior
Heurich House Museum

National Bonsai and Penjing Museum

3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC

Containing 4 pavilions including a Chinese, a Japanese, a North American, and an Exhibit pavilion, this DC museum is a favorite for those seeking peace and tranquility in the big city. Surrounded by an extensive collection of different styles of bonsai plants, the crowds just seem to melt away. The collection began as a gift from the Nippon Bonsai Association of Japan of 53 bonsai trees to the U.S. National Arboretum in honor of the bicentennial celebration in 1976.

National Bonsai Museum
A Trident maple bonsai at the National Bonsai Museum

Belmont Paul Women’s Equality National Monument Museum

144 Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC

Located next door to the Supreme Court, this national monument and museum was once the home of Alice Paul and the headquarters for the National Woman’s Party. She founded the party in 1916 to further the cause of full equality for women. The group helped to pass hundreds of pieces of legislation, including the 19th Amendment, which gave women in every U.S. state the right to vote (though many African American women remained unable to vote until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act). The museum includes some of the best resources on women’s suffrage and equal rights in the country.

Belmont Paul Women's Equality Museum interior

Explore the many museums and monuments located in Washington, D.C. while visiting the city on this historic cruise:

American Revolution Cruise

Roundtrip Washington, D.C.

Book Now More Info