Attractions

The Octagon House

A preeminent example of Federalist architecture, the Octagon House was designed by Dr. William Thornton, first architect of the U.S. Capitol, and built for Colonel John Tayloe, one of the richest plantation owners in Virginia. Completed in 1800, Colonel Tayloe provided his house for use as President Madison's temporary executive residence after the British burned Washington. The Treaty of Ghent, ending the war of 1812, was signed in the room above the rounded entrance pavilion.

In 1899 the Octagon House became home to the American Institute of Architects. Today, AIA retains ownership while residing in the building located directly behind the house, choosing to open this National Historic Landmark to the public as a museum. The Octagon is open from 1-4pm on Thursdays and Fridays each week.

Art Museum of the Americas

Founded as the Visual Arts Unit of the Pan American Union (now the Organization of American States), the Art Museum of the Americas serves to promote the core values of OAS by providing a space for cultural expression, creativity, dialogue and learning, and by highlighting themes such as democracy, development, human rights, justice, freedom of expression, and innovation.

Located at 201 18th Street NW, the Art Museum of the Americas is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. The museum features an extensive collection of contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art as well as rotating exhibits. Admission is free.

Department of Interior Museum

In 1935, as work on the new Department of Interior headquarters building progressed, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes began plans for a new departmental museum, dedicated to helping the American people better understand the variety and importance of work undertaken by DoI's many bureaus. A suite of rooms in the new building was dedicated to the museum, which opened in 1938 and was a popular tourist attraction in Washington DC, drawing several thousand visitors each month.

The Department of Interior Museum is temporarily closed due to renovations. Public programming and tours of the historic Department of Interior building are still available to the public.

Daughters of the American Revolution

A philanthropic service organization, the Daughters of the American Revolution is headquartered at 1776 D Street, NW, fronting 17th Street. The building houses an extensive genealogical library, Americana collection, and museum. The museum is comprised of a collection of period rooms, sponsored by state chapters of the organization.

Each room in the museum includes an extensive collection of period furniture, textiles, and appropriate furnishings to help illustrate the historical era. Rooms include a seventeenth century council chamber, Victorian parlor, and tavern hall. Both docent lead and self guided tours are available.

American Red Cross

Founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, the American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping people in need, responding to crisis situations including natural disasters and acts of war. The historic Red Cross Headquarters building was designed by Trowbridge & Livingston in the classical revival style and was completed in 1917. Notably, the building includes a large triptych of Tiffany windows, depicting scenes related to the history of the Red Cross.

Free guided tours of the American Red Cross Headquarters at 430 17th Street, NW, are offered Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:00am, and 2:00pm by reservation only.

National Academy of Sciences

Founded in 1863 to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" when called upon by the government, the National Academy of Sciences was created by an Act of Incorporation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln. Today, NAS members are selected based on contributions and accomplishments in their fields and serve as subject matter experts and "advisors to the nation."

The National Academy of Sciences offers a series of free rotating exhibits to the public at their headquarters building at 2101 Constitution Avenue throughout the year. Exhibits focus on the relationships between the arts and sciences, engineering, and medicine. Open: Weekdays, 9:00am-5:00pm.

U.S. Department of State Diplomacy Center

The United States Diplomacy Center has been conceived in order to promote better understanding of the history and importance of U.S. diplomacy. The museum will include exhibits, hands-on activities, and innovative classroom space; revealing how diplomacy has shaped our nation's history while paying tribute to the service and sacrifice of U.S. diplomats, past and present.

The U.S. Diplomacy Center is currently in the design and fundraising stages of development. The center is not yet open to the public, but looks forward to welcoming visitors to its planned facility at the State Department Headquarters building.

Last Reviewed 2016-06-30