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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 Washington, D.C. skyline at night  The Smithsonian Institution Building, affectionately known as "the Castle"  Early Eastern Airlines airplane in the Aviation Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum  Panorama of the Smithsonian Castle, museums, and the Enid A. Haupt Garden  Entrance to the Smithsonian American Art Museum  Aviation Gallery, National Air & Space Museum  Collections from Smithsonian's Museum Support Center  National Museum of American History. Credit: Smithsonian  The Peacock Room by James McNeil Whistler, Smithsonian's Freer Gallery. Credit: Freer Gallery  Iconic kitchen used by American chef Julia Child in her Cambridge home, on view at the National Museum of American History  The Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Credit: Tim Hursley  Modern gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, featuring Thomas Hart Benton's <i>Achelous and Hercules</i>, 1947. Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

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. 

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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 greatest American treasures during our gala, one-of-a-kind program. During this exclusive event, you’ll be guided by Smithsonian’s top curators and collections managers—whose conviviality and passion for sharing vast knowledge creates a uniquely immersive and exciting experience. Join Smithsonian staff for a private welcome among the glittering gems at the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals at the National Museum of Natural History. Then, enjoy a sumptuous opening dinner in the stunning Sant Ocean Hall. The next morning, enjoy a special tour of the Freer Gallery of Art, featuring James McNeil Whistler’s stunning Peacock Room and the accompanying special exhibition, The Peacock Room Comes to America. You’ll also go behind the scenes at Smithsonian’s state-of-the-art collections and research facilities at the fascinating Museum Support Center, just outside Washington, D.C. At the National Air and Space Museum, discover American aviation history during a before-hours visit to the America by Air exhibition. Our exclusive gala program also features a dazzling after-hours tour of the National Museum of American History, where you’ll see the iconic Star-Spangled Banner in its spectacular two-story display chamber, step into the culinary world of America’s favorite chef while exploring Bon Appétit! Julia Child’s Kitchen, and so much more!

September 17 — Washington, D.C.

Individual arrivals at the historic Hay Adams Hotel located just steps from the White House in Washington, D.C. This evening, depart for Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History for a welcome reception in the Janet Hooker Hall of Gems and Minerals. Then gather for opening remarks by Dr. Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture, Smithsonian Institution in the stunning Sant Ocean Hall. Afterwards, enjoy a festive candlelit welcome dinner in Sant Ocean Hall. All guests will receive a copy of Dr. Kurin's latest book The Smithsonian History of America in 101 Objects. (R,D)

September 18 — Washington, D.C.
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Take a before-hours tour of the famed Peacock Room, originally designed by architect Thomas Jeckyll for British shipping magnate Frederick Leyland and later redecorated by James McNeil Whistler. You’ll also have the opportunity to view the special exhibition Off the Beaten Path: Early Works by James McNeil Whistler. Arrive at Smithsonian’s Museum Support Center, not open to the general public. Gather to explore this vast collection of artifacts, part of the massive holdings of the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world. Tour the Museum Support Center with curators and museum support staff. Back at the hotel, enjoy cocktails followed by a lecture with Smithsonian curators who will discuss the Smithsonian’s history during the Civil War. Dinner will immediately follow. (B,L,D)

September 19 — Washington, D.C.
Spend the morning at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum on the National Mall. Enjoy a before-hours tour of America by Air with curator of the commercial aviation section, Bob Van der Linden. The exhibition explores the history of air transportation in the United States and discusses how the federal government has shaped the airline industry, how improvements in technology have revolutionized air travel, and how the flying experience has changed. Highlights include a Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor, Boeing 247, and DC-3 airliners; a cockpit simulation of an Airbus A320; and a nose from a Boeing 747 jumbo jet that you can enter. Enjoy lunch at the historic Old Ebbitt Grill. This afternoon, continue to Smithsonian’s American Art Museum. Tour some of the major highlights from the collection, including Georgia’ O’Keefe’s Manhattan (1932); Naim June Paik’s Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii (1964); Edward Hopper's Cape Cod Morning (1950), Thomas Hart Benton’s Achelous and Hercules (1947), and more. Return to the hotel for the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. This evening depart for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Enjoy a private viewing of the Star-Spangled Banner exhibition, then gather for cocktails and time to peruse the exhibition Julia Child’s Kitchen. Meet for a sumptuous dinner in the Presidential Suite. During dessert and coffee listen to the engaging remarks by Dwight Blocker Bowers, curator of the Entertainment History Collections at the museum. Dwight oversees the Institution’s fabled and very popular collections of entertainment artifacts, from the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz” to Archie Bunker’s chair to a Kermit the Frog puppet from “Sesame Street." (B,L,D)

September 20 — Washington, D.C., Home
Breakfast is at your leisure. Individual departures from the hotel. (B)