Beyond the Mall: Some of D.C.’s best museums

National Portrait Gallery

Colbert Report fans may remember this museum as the only one that would include the comedian’s portrait in one of their exhibits, just a few feet away from that of President George Washington. Although Colbert’s portrait has since been removed, the museum still tells the story of America through portraits of a diverse collection of people who shaped U.S. culture. The most recent addition is an exhibit titled “Recognize,” which captures the vitality of hip-hop culture and will be featured until Oct. 26.

Location: 8th and F streets, N.W.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Cost: Free

International Spy Museum

Ever been fascinated by the secret life of spies or wondered what it would be like to use advanced technology only seen in the movies? The International Spy Museum is highly interactive and offers an exciting tour through centuries of clandestine operations. In the “Introduction to Espionage” exhibit, visitors assume a secret identity that they carry on during an assigned mission throughout the museum. In the “School for Spies” exhibit, visitors learn the disguise techniques developed by Hollywood and examine more than 200 spy gadgets.

Location: 800 F St., N.W.
Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. every day but Saturday; open until 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Note: This museum has timed admission, so it’s recommended that you make an appointment.
Cost: $18

National Museum of Crime and Punishment

Another highly interactive museum, the Museum of Crime and Punishment features a high-speed police chase simulator, a full-scale model police station with jail cell and the opportunity to shoot in the Wild West. Visitors also have the chance to crack a safe, hack into a computer and step onto the actual set of America’s Most Wanted. At the exhibit on crime scene investigation, visitors are provided with fresh forensics evidence and expected to solve the crime using fingerprinting, ballistics and DNA testing.

Location: 575 7th St., N.W. (across from the Verizon Center)
Hours: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Cost: $17.95

Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum allows visitors to reflect upon and honor those who lived through one of the most tragic events in history. Exhibits like the “Final Solution,” which is located on the middle floor and features an authentic, life-sized reproduction of the railcars used to transport Jews to concentration camps, provide the opportunity to gain a more tangible understanding of history.

Location: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, S.W. (Between 14th St. and Wallenberg Place, south of Independence Ave.)
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

The Newseum

The museum claims to be the world’s most interactive, with 14 major galleries and fifteen theaters that cover five centuries of news history. Visitors can experience how a real TV studio works, catch an award-winning film about reporting on 9/11 and experiment with revolutionary media technology. Feeling brave? For $5, anyone can become a TV reporter and test their skills in front of a live camera. Feeling nostalgic? Rekindle your love for Sunday comics by checking out “The Funny Pages” exhibit.

Location: 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $13 for children ages 7-12, free for those under 6.

Molly Fried contributed to this report.

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