National Museum of African American History and Culture (Photo: Alan Karchmer)
Please Note: Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for participation on all tours; additionally, current CDC and Smithsonian COVID-19 guidelines (at the time of the tour) will be followed.
The 1791 plan for the National Mall envisioned a grand “public walk.” By 1900, that plan had been stymied, ignored, and overlooked. The far-reaching and critically influential McMillan Plan of 1902 reinterpreted the ceremonial core of the city, and much of what we see today on the Mall reflects that vision.
Enjoy a morning walking tour and discover the Mall’s history, design, and architecture, from its earliest vision to the latest developments. Learn what happened to the museum park, the railroad station and its tracks, why the Mall does not align with compass directions, and other little-known facts.
Study a wide range of architectural styles as you view the Smithsonian’s buildings—from the first permanent structure, the 1846 Castle, to the 2016 National Museum of African American History and Culture—as well as the National Gallery of Art and the Department of Agriculture. Compare diverse historical styles, ranging from the Gothic-Revival Castle to the exuberant Victorian Arts and Industries Building to the beaux-arts classicism of the Natural History Museum. Compare the various interpretations of modernism expressed in the Hirshhorn, American History Museum, Air and Space Museum, the sinuous curves of the American Indian Museum, and the rich symbolism of the African American History and Culture Museum. The tour concludes at the newest addition to the Mall, the Frank Gehry-designed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial.
The tour leader is Bill Keene, a lecturer in history, urban studies, and architecture.
No infants, children, or pets.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*
Other Date Options
- Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, August 11, 2022.
- The tour is 2.5 hours in length, including a brief mid-session break.
- Meet outdoors at the Smithsonian Metro, Mall exit (Blue/Orange/Silver lines).
- For additional tour information:
*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.