8 Outstanding Museums in Washington, D.C., You Need to Visit

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The museums in Washington, D.C., are among the most renowned globally, as a great deal of American history makes its permanent home in the city. You’d be hard-pressed to find another location in North America that matches D.C.’s pure volume of recognizable museums, and wandering the downtown D.C. area takes you to several of them. 

Many of these facilities are part of the Smithsonian, an organization the United States government established as a public trust in 1846. There are also some independent museums, each offering something different for those looking to learn about the past.

These museums cover a wide range collectively, as some focus on the nation’s achievements, some provide insight into the country’s history, and others show off the most significant artwork in American history. This guide will take you through the best museums in Washington, D.C. 

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8 of the Best Museums in Washington, D.C.

There are museums everywhere in D.C., with an exceptionally high concentration at the National Mall. Many of these are also free to attend, so you don’t have to worry about accumulating costs as you attempt to visit them.

Smithsonian Institution

the front view of the American Art Museum at Smithsonian Institution building

The Smithsonian Institution contains 18 museums and art galleries spread all over the city, in addition to the National Zoo. It’s the largest museum complex in the world and features about 155 million artifacts, so you’ve got your work cut out for you if you’re planning to experience everything it has to offer. Smithsonian Institution locations include:

  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • The National Museum of the American Indian
  • The National Museum of African Art
  • The National Air & Space Museum
  • The National Museum of Natural History
  • The National Museum of American History

That impressive list of some of the country’s top museums is still only a handful of what the Smithsonian has to offer. It would be a wonderful month to try to visit them all.

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art is a large campus with two buildings and the 6-acre Sculpture Garden. The museum’s West Building is easily recognizable thanks to its Roman-style architecture, while the East Building is more modern in appearance. You’ll find thousands of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints inside the museum, including the only original painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

View of the front entrance of the National Museum of Women in the Arts

The National Museum of Women in the Arts sits in a former Masonic Temple on New York Ave. in D.C. It’s the world’s only major museum dedicated exclusively to the works of women in performing, visual, and literary arts. The facility has an impressive collection of more than 4,500 pieces of art, including works by Frida Kahlo, Sarah Miriam Peale, Mary Cassatt, and Élisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun. The building also contains the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, which is open to students, researchers, and members of the public who want to learn more about women in the visual arts.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

It’s a somber place to visit, but the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is worth checking out. This facility, which sits across from the National Mall, focuses on bringing attention to the atrocities committed during World War II by promoting human dignity and confronting hatred. The museum has over 12,000 artifacts, 85,000 photographs, and 49 million pages of documents, allowing visitors to learn as much as possible about the horrors of the Second World War. 

National Geographic Museum

upward angle view of the main entrance to the National Geographic Museum

The National Geographic Society has a museum at 1145 17th St. that features permanent and rotating exhibits showing the work of well-known explorers, scientists, and photographers. Some of the museum’s famous artifacts include the camera Robert Peary used on his expedition to the North Pole in 1909 and pottery recovered from a shipwreck by Jacques Cousteau.

International Spy Museum

Those with an interest in the world of espionage won’t want to miss the International Spy Museum, a nonprofit venue located at 700 L’Enfant Plaza. The museum is home to over 7,000 artifacts, including photographs, videos, and interactive collections, with about 1,000 of these items on permanent public display. There’s a lot of history covered at the museum, as it traces espionage back to the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian empires and continues through to modern spy activity.

Museum of the Bible

corner view of the Museum of the Bible building at night

One of the most famous museums in Washington, D.C., is the Museum of the Bible, a newer facility that first opened its doors in late 2017. This museum has over 1,150 permanent artifacts, including one of the Bodmer Papyri from the third or fourth century and an additional 2,000 items on loan from other institutions. You’ll also find a restaurant, a rooftop viewing area, and a 500-seat theater at the venue.

O Street Museum

A more off-the-beaten-path experience is available at the O Street Museum at 2020 O St. This museum sits on a large complex featuring five interconnected houses that are home to 15,000 pieces of artwork, 20,000 books, and numerous manuscripts. Well-known works here include drawings by John Lennon, paintings by Kurt Wenner, sculptures by Frederic Remington, and guitars signed by Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen. 

These museums in Washington, D.C., are worth visiting because they offer insight into important national and global issues. You can learn a great deal about the world by checking out these facilities in the D.C. area. 

Find a Home in Washington, D.C., With the Help of an Expert Team

The museums in Washington, D.C., are only one reason to relocate here, as the city is loaded with culture, has an outstanding culinary scene, and features many desirable neighborhoods. Nomadic Real Estate is a real estate broker that connects home buyers and sellers in Washington, D.C., and we can help if you’re thinking of purchasing or renting a home in the region. 

Our experienced team knows the D.C. market and can help you find the right home for you. Contact our team today to discuss your leasing, management, and sales needs.

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Enhanced Reporting

Your portal includes a selection of extremely useful reports. Reports are available in the “Reports” section, and are distinct from the financial statements. Unlike financial statements which are static records, Reports are dynamic real-time records that will update with current data every time you view them. 

Scroll down to learn more about Reports:

Navigate to the "Reports" module in your portal:

Owner Portal Reports
  • Keep in mind, these reports are dynamic records. They will refresh to display current information every time you view them. 

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

Enhanced Rent Roll Report
  • The Enhanced Rent Roll Report will show the rent amount, last payment date, move-in date, lease expiration date, and security deposit amount for each of your tenants. 
  • It will also show a portfolio summary with occupancy percentage, vacancy loss, and more!

Unit Comparison Report:

Unit Comparison Report
  • If you own multiple units (or buildings) with Nomadic, you’ll get access to the Unit Comparison Report. 
  • This report enables you to quickly compare financial performance between your units at a glance without toggling between individual reports. 

Income Statement Month-Over-Month:

Income Statement by Month Report
  • The Income Statement Detail – Monthly Report serves as a month-over-month record of portfolio performance. You’ll see itemized income and expense categories and can track monthly. This report will update with fresh data every time you view it. 

Financial Statements

Financial statements will be published to your portal on a monthly basis. The statements are found in your Documents library, and provide a historical record of all financial performance. The statements serve as a snapshot of financial performance over a given period, and are static documents (unlike Reports, the statements do not update/change in real-time). 

Scroll down for more info about the Financial Statements in your Documents library:

The Documents area contains monthly financial statements:

Owner Portal Documents
  • The statements in the Documents are are static documents. They are posted to the portal once a month to serve as a historical record of financial performance. 

Download a statement to see month and YTD financials:

Owner Portal Property Statement

You'll also find a month-over-month operating statement:

Month over Month Statement

Portal Communication Tool

You can use your owner portal to communicate with our team. Any messages you send through the portal will go straight to your Account Manager. When we reply, you’ll get an email notification and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

Here’s an overview of using the communication platform:

Click "Communications" and navigate to "Conversations":

Commincation Dashboard Screenshot
  • The communications module will contain a record of all messages that you create through the portal. 

Click the "New Message" button and send your message:

Owner Portal New Message Screenshot

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

Portal Conversation Response Screenshot
  • You’ll get an email notification whenever you get a response, and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

You can reply in-line using the comment box:

Owner Portal Comment

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Portal Conversation Snapshot

Understanding the Ledger

Your portal includes a ledger with all transactions. The ledger is populated with data in real-time as transactions flow through our accounting software. Much of this information is also available in the Reports area, as well as the Statements in your Documents library, but the ledger is the most comprehensive resource for diving into the details. 

Please scroll through the sections below to get a better understanding of how to interpret the ledger. 

By default, transactions are sorted chronologically:

Owner Ledger Dates
  • The date reflected in the lefthand column is the actual transaction date, not the “bill date”. This is the date the transaction was actually processed. 

If you have multiple properties with Nomadic, you'll see the address for each transaction in the "Location" column:

Ledger Property Column
  • You can filter the ledger to look at just one property, all properties, or specific sets of properties. 
  • If you only have one property with us, you’ll just see the ledger for that property. 

The Description column displays the transaction type:

Owner Ledger Description Column
  • BILL: this is an expense transaction, such as for repair costs or management fees.
  • CHARGE: this is a transaction  billed to the tenant, most typically a rent payment. 
  • NACHA EXPORT: this is a credit we processed to your distribution account. This type of transaction is how you get paid! 

The Amount column shows the dollar value of each transaction:

Owner Ledger Amount Column
  • Positive Amounts: if an amount is positive, it reflects a transaction that is payable to you. Typically, this will be a rent payment that we collected from your tenants. On occasion, a positive number could also signify a journal entry or credit adjustment. 
  • Negative Amounts:  if an amount is negative, this is a transaction that is either payable to Nomadic or is an amount that has already been paid to you. Typically this will be for repair costs or management/leasing fees. Owner draws (net distributions into your checking/savings account) also reflect as negative amounts, since they have already been paid to you. 

The Account Balance column shows a sum of positive/negative transactions at a given point in time:

Owner Ledger Account Balance Column
  • Account Balance should always equal zero after a net distribution has been processed. When the balance is zero, this means that all expenses have been paid and you’ve received the remainder as net operating income, leaving a balance of zero (meaning: no one is due any money, as all funds have been distributed appropriately). 

Navigating the Propertyware Owner Portal

Your portal includes some extremely useful features that help you understand your property’s financial performance at a new level, with real-time transparency into every transaction.

Scroll through the snapshots below for an overview of portal navigation! If you need more help or have specific questions about using the portal, you can reach out to your Account Manager any time for a screen share. 

You can filter all info by date range or property:

PW Portal Filters

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

PW Owner Dashboard View

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Owner Portal Ledger View

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

Owner Portal Document Library

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

Portal Reports View

See a running list of all bills, and drill down for more detail:

Owner Portal Bills View

Under Bill Details, you'll find dates/descriptions/amounts and more:

Portal Bill Details

You can also communicate with your Account Manager through the portal:

Owner Portal Communication Tools

How do net distributions work?

Net distributions keep your accounting clean and simple. Each month we’ll collect rent from the tenants, deduct any repair expenses for the previous month and any management/leasing fees for the current month, and credit the remaining net operating income to your account. 

Net Distribution

You’ll receive a statement via email each time a net distribution is processed, and can view all transaction details in your Propertyware owner portal.