Celebrate Smithsonian

Go behind-the-scenes for an insider's look at iconic Smithsonian artifacts, beloved American treasures, and state-of-the-art research facilities on this exclusive tour led by top curators and collections managers.

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 The Smithsonian Institution Building, affectionately known as "the Castle"  Enjoy remarks from Dr. Richard Kurin Credit: Eric Firnhaber  The National Museum of the American Indian  Collections from Smithsonian's Museum Support Center  Collections at the National Museum of the American Indian's Cultural Resource Center  Visit the Smithsonian Support Center and tour with specialist curators Credit: Adam Senior  The Smithsonian's horticulture complex of greenhouses  A small portion of Smithsonian's vast orchid collection  The Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Credit: Tim Hursley  See iconic works of art from our collections Credit: Claire Tinsley  The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center  Panorama of the west wing of the National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center  The space shuttle Discovery, housed at the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center  National Museum of American History. Credit: Smithsonian  Smithsonian travelers viewing museum collections  Panorama of the Smithsonian Castle, museums, and the Enid A. Haupt Garden

Tour Details



An eye opening look at aspects of the Smithsonian that we forget about-or never knew. The range of the Institution's research is astounding! 

Clyde L.

We thoroughly enjoyed Celebrate Smithsonian and look forward to joining a Smithsonian Journeys trip in the future. We thought the program, Smithsonian representatives, and fellow participants were all top notch. 

Previous Journeys Traveler


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Enjoy insider access to the Smithsonian that is simply not available to the general public.

Join us for an insider’s look at some of Smithsonian’s most iconic American treasures during our one-of-a-kind gala program. During this exciting event, you’ll be guided by Smithsonian’s top curators and collections managers, whose conviviality and passion for sharing create a uniquely immersive experience. A private candle-lit welcome dinner awaits you in the breathtaking National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), where you’ll enjoy an exclusive look at the newly opened exhibition Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire. Throughout your tour, you’ll enjoy highlights such as behind-the-scenes access to the Museum Support Center, the NMAI Cultural Resource Center, the vast greenhouses of the Smithsonian Gardens, and the National Air and Space Udvar-Hazy Museum. Our program concludes with a dazzling after-hours tour of the National Museum of American History, featuring the newly opened exhibitions that celebrate American ingenuity and business, and the iconic Star-Spangled Banner, and so much more!


September 22

Individual arrivals during the afternoon at the Hay Adams Hotel located just steps from Lafayette Square and The White House.  Gather in the hotel lobby with fellow travelers and Smithsonian Journeys staff. Depart by motor coach for Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and enjoy a welcome reception and an opening talk by the Director of the National Museum of American Indian, Kevin Gover in the museums stunning rotunda. Explore the museum’s new exhibition The Great Inka Road, a network more than 20,000 miles long, crossing mountains and tropical lowlands, rivers and deserts, the “road” linked Cusco, the administrative capital and spiritual center of the Inka world, to the farthest reaches of its empire. The road continues to serve contemporary Andean communities across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile as a sacred space and symbol of cultural continuity. In 2014, UNESCO recognized the Inka Road as a World Heritage site. During dessert and coffee enjoy remarks by senior curator Jose Barreiro about this very elaborate and exciting exhibition. R, D

September 23

Enjoy a sumptuous breakfast with fellow travelers at the hotel then depart for the Smithsonian’s Museum Support Center campus and the National Museum of American Indian’s Cultural Resource Center located in Suitland, Maryland. Meet staff for an overview of this vast collection of artifacts.  The Cultural Resources Center (CRC), the second of three facilities comprising the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and is home to the extensive collections and research programs of the museum. CRC provides state-of-the-art resources and facilities for the proper conservation, protection, handling, cataloging, research, and study of the museum's collections, library holdings, and photo and paper archives. Also while at the Museum Support Center Campus you’ll visit Smithsonian’s vast Greenhouse Nursery Operations. These enormous greenhouses maintain all of the plant material for the gardens, grounds, and horticultural exhibits throughout the Smithsonian Institution. The greenhouses hold the Smithsonian Orchid Collection, tropical plant specimens, interior display plants, and thousands of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs, plus hundreds of poinsettias and other holiday plants. They also grow the nectar plants for the Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History. Travel back to Washington, DC for a sumptuous lunch in the city. In the afternoon visit the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and tour some of the museum’s most popular galleries including Twentieth-Century Americans showcasing political figures from the last century, Bravo!  featuring composers and performers who brought the performing arts to life from the beginning of the 20th century to the present and Champions! a salute to dynamic American sports figures whose impact has extended beyond their sports and made them a part of the larger story of our nation.  Return to the hotel and then gather for a cocktail reception, dinner and an evening lecture by a Senior Smithsonian Curator Dr. Rick Wunderman, Volcanologist with Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program (GVP) at the National Museum of Natural History. Dr. Wunderman will discusses Smithsonian’s continued work to understand Earth's active volcanoes  and how the GVP team documents, understands, and then disseminates eruption activity to the scientific community around the world. B,L,D

September 24                 

After a private breakfast depart for Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum - Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located near Dulles, Virginia. Gather in smaller groups for a highlights tour of the collection with curators from the National Air & Space Museum. There will be some free time to explore the museum further on your own. Enjoy lunch at McCormick & Schmick’s located in Reston Town Center, then return to Washington, DC and the hotel in the late afternoon. This evening depart for Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Upon arrival enjoy a private viewing of the Star Spangled Banner exhibition. Then gather for a welcome reception in the newly opened first floor wing which will display technological breakthroughs from various eras and explain intellectual property protection, trademarks and more. Signature exhibitions set to be on view include  The Value of Money featuring some of Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection, one of the largest numismatic (coin) collections in the world and Places of Invention, showcasing some of the most innovative inventions ever created including a workshop donated by Ralph Baer, recognized as the father of video games. During dessert and coffee, enjoy remarks by Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Dr. Richard Kurin who will talk more about the new wing and he’ll also give you an overview of more exciting plans for the museum. You’ll also get an update on Smithsonian’s newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture now in its final phase of construction. B,L,D

September 25

Breakfast is at your leisure in the hotel’s restaurant followed by individual departures from the hotel. B