The American flag is our most potent national symbol. It’s a ceremonial icon, a touchstone of patriotism and history, and an inspiration for artists of all kinds. Spend a fascinating day with popular tour leader Kathleen Bashian and a variety of experts and specialists as you explore the flag’s many forms and facets in Washington, D.C.
Begin the day with a rare opportunity: Visit the American History Museum before it opens for a private look at the legendary flag that flew over Fort McHenry and a curator’s talk that investigates the origins of the Star-Spangled Banner. Walk around the perimeter of the FBI building to view all the versions of the flags the U.S. has flown as a nation, and explore the history and evolution of the stars and stripes’ design.
The next stop is the Navy Memorial, where you’ll meet curator Mark Weber to learn about the flag’s rich military connections and protocol and see an honor guard ceremony. The red-white-and-blue theme extends into lunch at the hot new downtown spot Lincoln, where a flag mural dominates the dining room.
The afternoon brings a guided tour of the new Jasper Johns: Variations on a Theme exhibit at the Phillips Collection, where you’ll see how Johns’ flag-themed artworks invigorated and interpreted this most ubiquitous of symbols. Wrap up the day with a visit the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial for a close-up look at one of America’s most indelible portrayals of the flag.
You’ll look at our flag with new eyes and insight after taking part in this one-of-a-kind tour through history.
Meet in the American History Museum lobby (Constitution Avenue entrance)
Photo ID required
Explore the history and legacy of the Star-Spangled Banner on the National Museum of American History website.
Learn about Benjamin Franklin's many faces as University of Maryland's history professor, Richard Bell covers The Worlds of Benjamin Franklin.