Smithsonian Garden at the Smithsonian Castle
The Smithsonian Institution Building, affectionately known as "the Castle" Photo: Smithsonian Institution

Celebrate SmithsonianA VIP experience at the Smithsonian

Sep 17 - 20, 2014
Go behind-the-scenes for an insider's look at Smithsonian's treasures, an exclusive tour offered only through Smithsonian Journeys!
Starting at $2,995
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Overview
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, candle-lit welcome dinner in the breathtaking Great Hall of the Smithsonian Castle. 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!

Check out our slide show for a photo journey of this tour!
View photos by clicking "Next Photo" at the top of the page!

Itinerary
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 the iconic Smithsonian Castle for a welcome reception and opening remarks by Dr. Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Afterwards, enjoy a festive candlelit welcome dinner. 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 in 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 Achilles and Hercules, 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)