Have You Been to These 10 DC Museums That Are NOT Part of the Smithsonian?



Most people know that every DC museum under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution is free. It’s a serious privilege to see so much art and history without paying a steep admission fee, but did you know there’s a cornucopia of other museums and galleries out there that are also free?

Be sure to give museums and galleries that aren’t tied to the Smithsonian name a chance. There are still plenty of options in the area for those who want to live the #FrayLife—getting cultured and enjoying art on a budget.


The Phillips Collection

The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle offers free admission to view their permanent collections every Tuesday through Friday. Open to the public since 1921, the Phillips Collection includes works by Rothko, Renoir, Georgia O’Keefe, and Van Gogh, to name a few.

#FrayLife Tip: On the first Thursday of every month, the museum hosts Phillips after 5, a lively mix of food, drinks, art, entertainment, and live music. Advance ticket purchase is recommended, as this is a popular event.


Head to P Street in the Logan Circle neighborhood to see what’s on exhibit at Transformer, a gallery that has been on the DC arts scene since 2002.

Dupont Underground

This long-abandoned trolley tunnel was repurposed into 15,000 square feet of art space. There’s really no place like it in the city. Check the organization’s calendar for opening hours, upcoming exhibits, and events.


Heurich House Museum

Visiting this Dupont Circle mansion is like stepping into the early 1900s. The fireproof house was once the home of Christian Heurich, known for running Washington’s longest-operating brewery in history, Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. Heurich was at one point DC’s largest nongovernmental employer. If you can spare a few bucks, you can sign up for the Brewmaster Tour, which includes a flight of local beers.

Gallery O on H

Gallery O on H is an art gallery with an outdoor courtyard space in Northeast DC. Current exhibits and event info can be found on their Facebook page.

The Fridge

The Fridge is an art gallery, performance space, music venue, and classroom located on Barracks Row in Eastern Market. There’s an Instagram-ready exhibit on DC street stickers up right now featuring “the largest sticker combo wall in history”—it covers the entire gallery from floor to ceiling. The estimated 200,000 stickers that make up DC Street Sticker Expo 4.0, by artist iwillnot, is up until December 31.


Honfleur Gallery

Honfleur Gallery has two floors of contemporary art space in Anacostia. Check out their website for a full schedule of current and upcoming exhibits.

Touchstone Gallery

The sleek artist-owned Touchstone Gallery is located by the glitzy CityCenterDC. They’ve been displaying contemporary art since 1976. Their website is updated with current and upcoming exhibitions.

American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Though the museum just wrapped up a popular Ralph Steadman exhibit over the summer, there is a lot to see at Katzen Art Center: rotating exhibits, a sculpture garden, and permanent collections (including 9,000 items from the former Corcoran Gallery of Art. RIP.).

African American Civil War Museum

This museum tells the stories and preserves the historic roles that individuals of African, European, and Hispanic descent played in ending slavery and keeping America united under one flag. A must-see for any Civil War history buff.

Hungry after your excursion? Museums aren’t always known for their food, but you’ve got you cover! Check out these DC sustainable restaurants that offer flavor and environmental friendliness.

View More Articles By Anna Jacoby



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *