One of the prime repositories of US cultural artefacts is the National Museum of American History, which was imaginatively renovated in 2008. A wide common area off the lobby is lined with “artefact walls” that show off some of the items that the museum previously had to keep in storage – from 200-year-old tavern signs and toy chests, to the John Bull, the nation’s oldest functioning steam locomotive, dating from 1831. Elsewhere in the museum, you’re apt to find anything from George Washington’s wooden teeth to Jackie Kennedy’s designer dresses to Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. You could easily spend a full day poking around the displays, but three to four hours would be a reasonable compromise – and to stick to this time frame, you’ll have to be selective. The museum’s biggest draw is the battered red, white and blue flag that inspired the US national anthem – the Star-Spangled Banner itself, which survived the British bombardment of Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. Until the new National Museum of African American History and Culture opens on the Mall (due in 2015; nmaahc.si.edu) exhibits from its collection are on display here.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Keeping Austin weird: why the time to visit is now

Keeping Austin weird: why the time to visit is now

Kooky, liberal and easy to fall in love with, Austin feels a world away from clichéd images of conservative, oil-rich Texas: a "blueberry in the tomato soup" a…

06 Jul 2018 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

In 2013 Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy. But now the city is on the rebound: cool start-ups are filling once-neglec…

23 May 2018 • Jacqui Agate local_activity Special feature
A city in motion: why Detroit should be on your radar

A city in motion: why Detroit should be on your radar

Perhaps no city in history has fallen from such heady heights as Detroit. Through the earlier half of the twentieth century, the city bubbled with industry. Det…

22 May 2018 • Jacqui Agate insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs