If you're visiting the nation's capital, you'd be sorely remiss if you didn't visit at least one museum in DC during your time. Washington, DC, is home to some of the greatest museums in the country, most of them run by the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution. These museums have some remarkable displays of art, historical artifacts, and nature dioramas. You'd be hard-pressed to find an American who hadn't heard of the Smithsonian museums at least once in their lifetime.
However, these "museum giants," as it were, are not the only incredible museums available to you in the DC area. If you venture just outside of the capital, you'll find other incredible museums with some beautiful displays--and they're bound to be a lot less busy than the tourist-crowded centerpiece museums.
Glen Echo Park
Located in nearby Glen Echo, Maryland, Glen Echo Park hosts a variety of rotating exhibits, displaying beautiful works of art as well as historical artifacts. The exhibits change regularly, so you can come back to the museum many times and never see the same displays. Some galleries will highlight a specific artist, while others display a range of related pieces from artists around the world.
But more than just displaying pieces, this museum also offers classes for children, teens, and adults alike. You can take courses in painting, glass blowing, pottery, sculpting, and photography.
There are even dance classes available for students of all ages, and Glen Echo Park holds regular dances for you to show off your newly acquired skills. Whether it's the swing or the tango, there's a fun time to be had for everyone who visits Glen Echo Park.
The Arts Barn
The Arts Barn is a one-of-a-kind museum. Not only does it display items of historical significance, but the building itself has a rich history. As the name implies, the Arts Barn was built inside of a renovated stable that belonged to the expansive Tschiffely estate. Now, it is a centerpiece of Gaithersburg's visual and performing arts center, known as "Arts on the Green."
This art museum has rotating exhibits displaying beautiful works of art, and even contains studios in which local artists can create their works. The Arts Barn is all about promoting a love of art in people of all ages, and so they offer hands-on art classes and theater programs for both youth and adults. Even the gift shop is aimed at supporting local artists, selling pieces created by many of the artists in the area.
The Strathmore is the pride and joy of North Bethesda, Maryland. It is a premier art institution and features over 2 dozen different exhibitions every year. The art is displayed in a beautiful, historic mansion and includes artwork from every medium--paintings, sculptures, photographs, etc. They even host educational programs for both children and adults, which are taught by professional artists and museum curators.
In addition to their ever-changing art exhibits, the Strathmore also hosts a large number of performances and other events throughout the year. With performances by singers, symphonies, orchestras, and dance troupes, this museum and event center has something to offer you no matter what time of the year you visit. It is well worth stepping away from DC for a while to enjoy this hidden treasure.
With so much to see and do in the capital city, you may be inclined to simply visit a museum in DC. While all of the DC museums are well worth a visit, don't let them blind you to the other treasures resting just outside the city. Step outside of the bustling capital and visit one of the museums listed above. You'll be glad you did.
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