National Museum of the American Indian (Judy Davis/Hoachlander Davis Photography)
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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 fall 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 newest museum—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 American History Museum, Air and Space Museum, Hirshhorn, the sinuous curves of the American Indian Museum, and the rich symbolism of the latest addition to the Mall, the Museum of African American History and Culture.
The tour leader is Bill Keene, a lecturer in history, urban studies, and architecture.
This tour is 2.5 hours in length, including a brief midsession break. No infants, children, or pets.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*
*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.
Tour meets outside the Smithsonian
Metro, Mall Exit