Welcome to DC: Museums, Sites, Restaurants, Lobbyng, Entertainment

AM Materials:

Welcome to Washington, DC

Washington, DC is the nation’s capital, but it is also a city like all others, home to many diverse people and communities. There is a lot to do in DC (as locals call it) as well as in the DMV (Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia) which is the greater metropolitan area).

We are meeting at the Renaissance Hotel DC (999 9th Street NW) which is centrally located. It has easy access to Metro lines, buses, cabs, and ride sharing. The hotel will provide maps, Metro information, and restaurant suggestions.

Walking is the preferred mode of transport but the other options are plentiful and convenient. For example, the Circulator Bus https://www.dccirculator.com/circulator-map-and-information-guide/# goes from Union Station to Georgetown, or from Union Station around the National Mall for the princely sum of $1. Metro riding is easy. Just use www.wmata.com for plans.

Note that the city is divided into 4 quadrants--NE, NW, SE, SW—so always include that in the address lest you find yourself at the right address in the wrong quadrant.

Here are some ideas to consider for your free time this weekend:


1. National Museum of Women and the Arts

1250 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005

Where else in the world can you see the contributions of 16th- through 21st-century women artists?  The building, formerly a Masonic temple, is wonderful and the collection stellar. See https://nmwa.org for hours and admission cost. 

Travel: Walk from hotel: 6-minutes (0.3 mi)


2. Belmont Paul House

144 Constitution Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002

The home of the National Women’s Party has suffrage and other women’s memorabilia, well worth a visit at this centennial anniversary of women voting. See https://www.nps.gov/bepa/index.htm for hours; free admission.

Digital exhibit on Women’s Suffrage: https://www.nps.gov/bepa/learn/womens-suffrage.htm

Travel: Walk from hotel: 30-minutes (1.4 mi);

Metro: 18 minutes

5- minute walk (0.2 mi) to the Gallery Pl-Chinatown Station

Red line towards Glenmont (2 stops) to Union Station then a 9-minute walk (0.5 mi)


3. National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560

This is the newest museum on the Mall, worth days of study but still deeply meaningful even if you only have two hours to reflect.

See https://nmaahc.si.edu/.  Free timed tickets are required but they are easier to get in January than any other time of year.

Travel: Walk: 24 minutes (1.4 mi)

Metro: 19 minutes

Walk 8-minutes (0.4 mi) to the Metro Center Station then take the Orange/Blue/Silver lines (2 stops) to the Smithsonian Station

Walk 8-minutes (0.4 mi)


4. National Portrait Gallery / Smithsonian American Art Museum

8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

Lots of wonderful portraits including intriguing ones of Michelle and Barack Obama

See https://npg.si.edu/home/national-portrait-gallery Free. Open 11:30am-7pm every day.

At the National Portrait Gallery: Women’s Suffrage Exhibit: Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence

March 29, 2019, through January 5, 2020

Although this exhibit closes a few days before our meeting begins, I note that the catalog for the exhibit, published in collaboration with Princeton University Press, is advertised as “the first scholarly examination of the entire American women’s suffrage history in one book.”

At the smithsonian Institution: Digital exhibit: Votes for Women at https://www.si.edu/spotlight/votes-for-women

This digital exhibit is under the umbrella of the Smithsonian’s new digital women’s history initiative: Because of Her Story  


Note the invitation to “share untold stories”

Travel: Walk: 5-minutes (0.3 mi)


5. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW Washington, DC

A powerful place to visit and ponder. See https://www.ushmm.org. See website for hours.

Travel: Walk from hotel: 28-minutes (1.4 mi)

Metro: 16 minutes

Walk 8-minutes (0.4 mi) to the Metro Center Station then take Orange/Blue/Silver lines (2 stops) to the Smithsonian Station

Walk 5-minutes (0.2 mi)


6. Museum of the Bible


400 4th St. SW, Washington, DC 20024. Admission fee (lower if purchased in advance online). Open 10am-5pm

Museum of the Bible aims to be among the most technologically advanced and engaging museums in the world. Showcasing rare artifacts spanning 3,500 years of history, the museum offers visitors an immersive and personalized experience with the Bible, and its ongoing impact on the world around us.


7. Washington had MANY religious landmarks

Some within easy cabbing from the hotel include:

--Washington National Cathedral https://cathedral.org/

--Basilica of the National Shrive of the Immaculate Conception https://www.nationalshrine.org/

--Islamic Center of Washington http://theislamiccenter.us/

--Adas Israel https://www.adasisrael.org


8. Major government sites

You may wish to contact your senator/representative before coming to get a tour of the White House or Congress.

--White House https://www.whitehouse.gov/

--Congress  https://www.congress.gov/

--Supreme Court https://www.supremecourt.gov/

--Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/

(worth a visit for the building alone—a remarkable, quirky, and beautiful building, which also offers a Gutenberg Bible on permanent display)

Women’s Suffrage Exhibit: Shall Not Be Denied: Women and the Fight for the Vote

June 4, 2019, to September 30, 2020

Monday – Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (closed Sunday)

Southwest Gallery, Second Floor, Thomas Jefferson Building (the main Library of Congress Building), 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC

See https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/women-fight-for-the-vote/about-this-exhibition/ for a digital exploration of the exhibit that also provides links (under “events and resources) to eight other digitized suffrage-related Library of Congress collections and to the LOC electronic research guide to the 19th amendment

--National Archives https://www.archives.gov/

Women’s Suffrage Exhibit: Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote

May 10, 2019, through January 3, 2021

Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, 701 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC




9. Lobbying is a cottage industry in DC

Contact your favorite lobby before arriving. Set up an appointment to talk with the staff. If possible, follow their instructions for making an appointment with someone in your Member of Congress’ office on Capitol Hill. Don’t be surprised if you meet with a young person who resembles your students. Young people do most of the leg work on the Hill and many go on to powerful jobs around the country.


10. Restaurants

There are countess restaurants in DC, many in walking distance of the hotel. Choose your cuisine—there are few DC does not have. Prices vary widely. Reservations are suggested at the ‘better’ places or for a large party (6+). But there are plenty of restaurants one can walk into and get seated, or wait a short time.

One local chain (there are six restaurants) of interest is Busboys and Poets, a reference to Langston Hughes. The restaurants, which include bars and book stores, are dedicated to community conversation and social justice. https://www.busboysandpoets.com/. The original one is at 14th and V Streets NW.


11. Entertainment

Politics is its own kind of entertainment, but DC also boasts a vibrant cultural life. Among the major venues is the John F. Kennedy Center for the Preforming Arts

http://www.kennedy-center.org/. Check the site for schedules and tickets. Tours are offered all day. At 6 PM every night there is a free performance on the Millennial Stage.

Enjoy DC!