Visit the Renwick Gallery on the Way to the White House

If you visit Washington D.C., you’ll probably try to catch a glimpse of the White House. Even as a local, I really enjoy walking through Lafayette Square on the north side of the White House. You can get the best views and photos from here. If you’re touring Washington D.C., this is probably not your only stop and perhaps your family is reaching that tipping point where a respite from crowds and the weather may be welcome. Have I got a place for you!

The Renwick Gallery Location

On the same block as the White House at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 17th St NW, is a small museum called the Renwick Gallery that’s part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and houses its contemporary crafts and decorative arts. It’s free and has some unique and unusual artwork that will be of interest to all ages.

The Renwick Gallery Washington DC exhibit - 1.8 Renwick by Janet Echelman
1.8 Renwick by Janet Echelman, one of the Renwick Gallery exhibits in Washington, D.C.

Exhibits at the Renwick Gallery

As you walk in the main door, you’re greeted with a grand staircase. At the top, you can catch a glimpse of an exhibit. When we were there, we could see a glow of orange and red. I guarantee your children will fly up the steps to see what’s there.

In that upper gallery, we joined the other visitors in laying on the floor to better view the exhibit above our head. Created by Janet Echelman and titled 1.8 Renwick, it represented the tsunami from 2011, and was composed of layers of brilliantly colored netting. The exhibits in this gallery change, so expect something different when you visit.

The rest of the gallery contains many other unusual artworks which circle the building. My daughter particularly liked the jewelry and the reclining glass dress pictured below, while my favorite was the ghost clock.

The Renwick Gallery Washington DC exhibit - Reclining Dress
Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery by Karen LaMonte, formerly displayed at the Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C.

The Renwick Gallery Gift Shop

The gallery also has a gift shop, which I can’t recommend for those with young children. We walked in the store and quietly tiptoed out, hands in our pockets. A scarf for $300 just makes me nervous. I was afraid to find out how much the more fragile items were.

It’s a relatively quick trip to view this museum, but it’s a wonderful respite from the busier side of Washington, D.C. Capital Hilton is just a 10-minute walk from this interesting gallery and the White House.

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Parallax photo courtesy of the Renwick Gallery

Visit the Renwick Gallery Washington DC

Know Before You Go

  • Many of the monuments and memorials surrounding the National Mall are open 24 hours a day!
  • Driving through the city isn’t recommended – walking or taking the Washington Metro are great ways to navigate the city.
  • Be prepared for numerous security checks if you are visiting any government buildings!

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Andrea L. Are you interested in traveling to Washington DC? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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