Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Best underrated museum: The Mansion on O Street

Arielle Bader | Staff Photographer
Sharon Eliza Nichols looks at a display case filled with jewlery and trinkets at the Mansion on O Street.

Location: 2020 O St. NW
Readers’ pick: National Museum of Women in the Arts

Even if you feel like you’ve been to every museum in the District, you may have missed the Mansion on O Street.

Located in a Dupont Circle brownstone, the Mansion on O Street is a complex composed of more than 100 rooms connected through secret passageways behind 70 hidden doors. Within the rooms, you’ll find about 15,000 pieces of art ranging from sculptures to paintings, but it goes beyond your typical museum with items like guitars signed by Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan and a dress worn by Audrey Hepburn.

The Mansion on O Street was designed in 1982 by Edward Clark, the same architect who designed the U.S. Capitol Building. While it began as one building, the owners eventually bought four neighboring homes and connected them all to be the five-home, four-story complex that the museum is housed in today.

The museum offers a variety of tours ranging from a secret door tour ($25) – where a museum volunteer will provide you hints on how to find a hidden door – to a Mrs. Rosa Parks tour ($30), where museumgoers can visit Parks’ favorite rooms in the mansion from when she lived there for more than a decade.

With every tour, you also gain access to the museum’s various exhibits like “Nomad,” which showcases art created from indigenous Mexican artists, and “American Civics,” featuring work from Shepard Fairey, who is widely known for his “Hope” poster of former President Barack Obama.

The museum’s vast size means each visit will be different depending on which rooms you visit or what secret passages and memorabilia you discover, making it this year’s pick for best museum.

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