National Museum of African Art

National Museum of African Art

National Museum of African Art
4.5
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Part of the Smithsonian Institution that concentrates on crafts and objects from the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
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How to get there
  • Smithsonian • 4 min walk
  • L'Enfant Plaza • 6 min walk
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See what travellers are saying
  • Elliott P
    Skokie, Illinois525 contributions
    Enticing Exhibition of Culture and Art
    Couldn’t score tickets to the wildly popular National Museum of African American History & Culture? Come here instead. I found the similarly named but continentally distinct National Museum of African Art to be well worth visiting. The architecture of this space is immaculate. The newly updated and smartly curated exhibits inside are endlessly intriguing. On a tight schedule? It’s relatively easy to make your way through the museum in two hours or less. I would advise anyone visiting the Smithsonian not to pass by this museum.
    Visited January 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written January 4, 2023
  • worktotravel14
    Trenton, New Jersey2,219 contributions
    An art class and a celebration of Africa
    This museum does much to celebrate and elevate the diversity of Africa. Half underground, half above ground, this is a treasure trove. We happened to arrive just as a free art class was starting at the museum. The art class was led by a local artist and was derived to find inspiration in the Heroes exhibit which talked about the principles of African heroism and profiled the human, the historic, and the mythical as heroes in African society. In many cases, the point was the collective heroism that African nations and cultures draw upon and how that is infused in to Black culture more generally. The class was beautiful and left us with principles and an encouragement of seeing differently and drawing through art. During our time there we also enjoyed time in the permanent collection where we found that the museum has now taken on the principle of returning art that was gained through plunder and where they can verify that origin story. It is always the right time to make things right and I gained a great deal of respect for that action. I hope it's one that continues, even if it compromises the museum's collections. Perhaps the highlight was Ike Ude's portraits of Nollywood stars and the way in which they examined their celebrity, the industry, their various traits and the glamour of the business. It truly felt like a celebration of the one of the biggest film industry in the world, which is now raising the bar and quality of other African countries. I could have spent a few more hours here, but moved on (in service to the art) in the Hirshorn. Can't wait to check out what is next.
    Visited July 2022
    Written January 7, 2023
  • MsKiesha
    Alexandria, Virginia2,456 contributions
    Beautiful museum
    Absolutely breathtaking exhibits and very beautiful museum. I really enjoy my visit and was in awe of the creativity and diversity throughout the museum. It was not crowded at all, so I was able to find parking right across the street and take my time in each exhibit. I look forward to coming back in the future.
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written October 27, 2023
  • montanapescado
    Albuquerque, New Mexico1,184 contributions
    A worthwhile stop at the Smithsonian; good use of time
    This is one of the Smithsonian's smaller collections, but the variety of styles media is impressive. It's nice to have a Smithsonian museum with this breadth that doesn't take all day to properly explore. This is a fine introduction to African art for those of us not already well versed in the topic.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written November 18, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
249 reviews
Excellent
120
Very good
95
Average
23
Poor
7
Terrible
4

montanapescado
Albuquerque, NM1,184 contributions
Nov. 2023 • Friends
This is one of the Smithsonian's smaller collections, but the variety of styles media is impressive. It's nice to have a Smithsonian museum with this breadth that doesn't take all day to properly explore. This is a fine introduction to African art for those of us not already well versed in the topic.
Written November 18, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MsKiesha
Alexandria, VA2,456 contributions
Oct. 2023 • Solo
Absolutely breathtaking exhibits and very beautiful museum. I really enjoy my visit and was in awe of the creativity and diversity throughout the museum. It was not crowded at all, so I was able to find parking right across the street and take my time in each exhibit. I look forward to coming back in the future.
Written October 27, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sam
Washington DC, DC11,996 contributions
Apr. 2023 • Solo
Very informative museum about African history, culture and how important they were for our country to develop. Worth spending one hour
Written April 14, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

worktotravel14
Trenton, NJ2,219 contributions
Jul. 2022
This museum does much to celebrate and elevate the diversity of Africa. Half underground, half above ground, this is a treasure trove. We happened to arrive just as a free art class was starting at the museum. The art class was led by a local artist and was derived to find inspiration in the Heroes exhibit which talked about the principles of African heroism and profiled the human, the historic, and the mythical as heroes in African society. In many cases, the point was the collective heroism that African nations and cultures draw upon and how that is infused in to Black culture more generally. The class was beautiful and left us with principles and an encouragement of seeing differently and drawing through art.

During our time there we also enjoyed time in the permanent collection where we found that the museum has now taken on the principle of returning art that was gained through plunder and where they can verify that origin story. It is always the right time to make things right and I gained a great deal of respect for that action. I hope it's one that continues, even if it compromises the museum's collections.

Perhaps the highlight was Ike Ude's portraits of Nollywood stars and the way in which they examined their celebrity, the industry, their various traits and the glamour of the business. It truly felt like a celebration of the one of the biggest film industry in the world, which is now raising the bar and quality of other African countries.

I could have spent a few more hours here, but moved on (in service to the art) in the Hirshorn. Can't wait to check out what is next.
Written January 7, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elliott P
Skokie, IL525 contributions
Jan. 2023 • Solo
Couldn’t score tickets to the wildly popular National Museum of African American History & Culture? Come here instead. I found the similarly named but continentally distinct National Museum of African Art to be well worth visiting.
The architecture of this space is immaculate. The newly updated and smartly curated exhibits inside are endlessly intriguing.
On a tight schedule? It’s relatively easy to make your way through the museum in two hours or less. I would advise anyone visiting the Smithsonian not to pass by this museum.
Written January 4, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

An0nyMs
Tucson, Arizona1,438 contributions
Sep. 2021 • Solo
Looking at the museum from the street, you might think it's very small. But it actually goes three floors down and has much larger galleries.

I've seen a number of museums' African art exhibitions, but this one is different! That's partly the depth and breadth of the collection here. But a majority of the work his modern and contemporary African art, which may be as new to you as it was to me. I only had two hours but could barely see a bit more than half of it.
Written September 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Doug M
Chesterfield, MO796 contributions
Oct. 2019
This one of the smaller of the Smithsonian museums, and was not very crowded at all when I was there. The pieces on display are pretty interesting, with most items being sculptures or physical items, and only a few paintings. It doesn't take too long to go through, especially compared to the other museums. Really for those interested specifically in African art or wanting to check off all the museums.
Written January 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Robert D
Brooklyn, New York2,683 contributions
Nov. 2019
This underground museum features several interesting exhibits of various aspects of African art. I especially enjoyed the Heroes exhibit, with art inspired by various African heroes.
Written December 17, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ZenDark30
Portland, OR2,438 contributions
Dec. 2019
Not to be confused with the newer African Cultural Museum, this museum connects you to the Freer Gallery and Sackler Gallery through an underground passage. Outside is the Smithsonian Castle and gardens. All are very close and worth the investment.

If you’re cramped for time, go straight to the special exhibits.
Written December 10, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Las Buganvillas
Cartagena, Colombia901 contributions
Dec. 2019
I note that opinions are evenly divided between excellent and very good. I guess it also depends on your enthusiasm for African art. I was very impressed because I love the tribal art, have been to most countries on the continent and collect myself. It is also very well explained, and the best collections, understandably, are form West Africa, especially Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and also Senegal and Mali.There are also frequent temporary exhibitions. There are few places that offer a better and more comprehensive collection of African art.
Written December 10, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

Frequently Asked Questions about National Museum of African Art