How Long Does It Take to Tour the National Museum of American History?

Visiting the National Museum of American History can be a daunting task, especially if you’re short on time. The museum is home to a vast collection of artifacts that showcase the history and culture of the United States. If you’re wondering how long it takes to tour the museum, the answer depends on a few factors.

Factors That Affect Tour Time

Interest Level: The amount of time you spend at the museum will depend on your interest level in history and American culture. If you’re a history buff, you may want to spend more time exploring each exhibit in detail.

Crowds: The crowds at the museum can also affect how long it takes to tour. If it’s a busy day, you may need to navigate through crowds to move from exhibit to exhibit.

Type of Tour: There are different types of tours available at the museum, including self-guided tours and guided tours. The length of your tour may depend on which type of tour you choose.

The Collection

The National Museum of American History has an extensive collection that covers everything from politics and military history to pop culture and technology. Some highlights include:

  • The Star-Spangled Banner: This iconic flag inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812.
  • The First Ladies’ Inaugural Gowns: A collection of gowns worn by America’s first ladies throughout history.
  • The Greensboro Lunch Counter: This counter was the site of a sit-in protest during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • The Ruby Slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”: These iconic shoes worn by Judy Garland in the classic film are a popular attraction.

Tour Lengths

If you’re short on time, the museum recommends allowing at least two hours to tour the main exhibition halls. However, if you’re interested in exploring each exhibit in detail, you may need to allow several hours or even a full day to see everything.

For those who are looking for a more in-depth experience, the museum offers guided tours that range from one hour to three hours in length. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who can provide additional information about the exhibits and artifacts.


In conclusion, the amount of time it takes to tour the National Museum of American History depends on your interest level, the crowds, and the type of tour you choose. While you can easily spend a full day exploring everything the museum has to offer, it’s possible to see the highlights in just a few hours. So whether you have a whole day or just a few hours to spare, there’s something for everyone at this iconic museum.