Washington DC

Smithsonian Institution Building - Washington DC

Metro Closest Metro Stop:
Smithsonian MuseumMuseumMuseum
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Museum Admission: Free

Museum Phone: (202) 633-1000

Museum Website: www.si.edu

Museum Email: info[at]si.edu

Museum Hours: Monday - Sunday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Museum Address: 1000 Jefferson Drive SW, Washington, DC

Smithsonian Metro Station is the closest station to the Smithsonian Institution Building; also known as The Castle. The station has two exits. When visiting the Smithsonian Institution, make sure to leave through The Mall Exit (at 12th St & Jefferson Drive SW). You could end up blocks from the Smithsonian if you leave through the wrong exit. Use the map below to find suggested routes to the museum.

Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC

From Smithsonian Metro Station
Museum The station has two exits. Leave through The Mall Exit (at 12th St & Jefferson Drive SW).
Museum Walk east on Jefferson Dr SW.
Museum The Smithsonian Institution will be on the right.

The Building

The Smithsonian Castle was designed by James Renwick, Jr. who was also responsible for New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral. The design is Norman in style, described as "a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs". The brownish-red color of the building comes from the Maryland red sandstone used in the construction of the building.

When it was completed, the Castle held offices, a lecture hall, library, chemical laboratory, natural history laboratory, art gallery, science museum, and archives. The museum didn't truly expand outside this building until the 1960s.

Only a decade after it was built, the Smithsonian Castle was partially destroyed by fire, which consumed the upper story of the main segment and the north and south towers. Twenty years later, the east wing was fireproofed, according to Smithsonian records, and additional administrative offices were added.

The first secretary of the Smithsonian, Joseph Henry, also lived here with his family. You'll find a statue of Henry outside the castle and the crypt of Smithsonian founder, James Smithson, inside the north entrance to the castle. Smithson was a British chemist, who bequethed his fortune to the United States, which led to the creation of the Smithsonian Institution.


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