Uncover the Historical and Cultural Gems of Washington, D.C.

Welcome to the interactive course guide for The Great Tours: Washington, D.C.. Here you will find select content from the course, as well as quizzes, reader polls, interactive maps, further reading suggestions, and more.

Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.

The Holocaust Museum

Study the background of the extraordinary Holocaust Museum, its mission to preserve the history of Nazi atrocities against Jews and other persecuted groups, and the movement to memorialize these events through a museum and education center. Observe how the museum poignantly evokes pre-war Jewish experience, the horror of the Holocaust, and its aftermath and legacy, through images, personal objects, and oral histories. […]

Smithsonian Building in Washington D.C.

Museums on the Mall: Smithsonian and Beyond

In a panoramic overview of the Smithsonian Institution, begin at the National Museum of American History, and its collection of historical treasures. Continue with the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the phenomenal collections of the National Air and Space Museum. Conclude with the wealth of art museums on the National Mall. […]

Newseum Building in Washington D.C.

Washington, City of Scandal

Delve into the history of political scandals in Washington and how the nation has come to terms with them. Learn first about the 19th-century Burr Conspiracy, focusing on former Vice President Aaron Burr. Then take stock of the scandals under President Ulysses S. Grant, the infamous Teapot Dome scandal, and finally the Watergate scandal, finishing at the Newseum, a media history museum. […]

Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

The Kennedy Center and the D.C. Arts Scene

Within Washington’s hotbed of live entertainment, visit the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with its multiple performance spaces. Then learn about the National Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre, and Folger Theatre, D.C.’s outstanding regional theaters, and music offerings from the National Symphony Orchestra to venues featuring jazz, rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, and alternative music. […]

Dupont Circle fountain in Washington D.C.

Neighborhoods of Northwest D.C.

D.C.’s Northwest quadrant is home to some of the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods. Take in the beautiful architecture of Embassy Row, and that of two magnificent nearby mansions. Visit the Dupont Circle neighborhood and its extraordinary museums, as well as those of The George Washington University. Finish with a first look at the history and cultural richness of Georgetown. […]

Hillwood Estate Garden in Washington D.C.

Washington’s Historic Homes and Gardens

Washington’s private homes provide a fascinating window on the city’s history. Begin at the pre-Revolutionary Old Stone House, which shows how early D.C. citizens lived, followed by three grand and storied mansions in Upper Georgetown. Then visit the remarkable Octagon House, the Hillwood estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, and Woodlawn, a plantation operated by free African Americans. […]

Richard Kurin Photo

Presented by Professor Richard Kurin, Ph.D.
Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large
Richard Kurin is the Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassadorat-Large, the first person in the history of the Smithsonian Institution to hold that title. He received his BA in Anthropology and Philosophy from the University at Buffalo, and he earned both his MA and his PhD in Anthropology from The University of Chicago. During his graduate studies, Dr. Kurin was awarded a FulbrightHays Doctoral Dissertation fellowship and a Social Science Research Council fellowship.