Museums and Galleries in Washington, DC offer the most exquisite locations for your holiday party, quarterly meeting, lecture, seminar, sales meeting, corporate event, power breakfast, wedding or cocktail reception, award ceremony, black and white gala reception, fundraiser, silent auction, recognition function, afternoon tea, bridal shower, charity event, or any other special occasion that calls for elegant  and formal surroundings.

Museums and galleries have a striking elegance with the right ambiance and grandeur for your formal event.

No decorations required!

Vaulted ceilings, ornate pillars, marble floors, art, sculptures, special exhibits, modern art, sweeping entries and magnificent doorways, wide stairs, chandeliers can all be signature features to make your special event unique!

Hosting your event at a museum or gallery can be surprisingly easy!

Many such venues will be happy to accomodate your event or meeting on their premises, offering you a mix of catering and event planning services, creative and elegant menu options, audiovisual, internet and videoconferencing support.

And don’t forget the opportunity to have live music.  Leverage the acoustics of the vaulted ceilings by inviting a string quartet or jazz musician to play at your event – it’s a great alternative to piped music.

Museums and galleries are for the most part, handicapped accessible, air-conditioned and non-smokingParking is also readily available.

Museums and Galleries in Washington DC come in many flavors- there is one for every palate!

Creative Partners Gallery (below).
Creative Partners Gallery

If your event or meeting needs a certain something, consider one of the following museum themes:

• Rail and Locomotive, Civil War, Antebellum Themes, Modern Art, Classical Art, Interpretive Works, Sculptural Works,  Asian Art, Costumes, Space and Aeronautics, African Art, Ocean and Aquatic themes, Ancient Egypt, US Navy, Health and Medicine, and Textiles

• Judaic Themes at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History

• Women at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

• Natural History at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (below left)

Smithsonian Natural History
• Nature at the United States National Arboretum

• Air and Space at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (below).

• Literary at the Folger Shakespearean Library

• Zoological at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park

US Postal History at the National Postal Museum, .

Both museums and galleries often have beautiful grounds and gardens to host ceremonies and have a unique ambiance that typical banquet halls and hotels cannot offer. Dramatic and stunning architecture can be found at many museums and galleries, creating a special atmosphere for your event.

The Stephen Decatur House Museum  provides a magnificent setting for special events. One of the nation capital’s most elegant and historic houses, this venue comes complete with gardens, a stunning carriage house and centuries of hosting events in the shadow of the White House.

Host a team-building event or a birthday party at a children’s’ museum or science museum – the exhibits are very engaging and hands on –  offering everyone the opportunity to be a kid again!

The International Spy Museum is the first of its kind, offering a view into the history of espionage around the world. Host an interactive spy birthday party or a scavenger hunt with code-breaking and clues. Or better still, arrange a meeting of spies!

The National Air & Space Museum on the National Mall with the Einstein Planetarium, IMAX Theater, hangars, observation towers, balconies and overlooks can all be yours to explore. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History  offers eight  very different event spaces, dramatic lighting, six-story high screens, an auditorium, and the opportunity to dine while gazing at the Hope Diamond.

The Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian presents elegant and flexible space with over 150 sculptures and paintings (left).

The Great Hall at the National Building Museum combines modern flexibility and convenience with a nineteenth-century setting.  Only minutes from downtown hotels and the convention center, the Museum remains one of Washington’s most easily accessible venues.

As you consider your options, here are some tips for planning your event at a Museum or Gallery.

Planning Makes Perfect

Remember to inquire about the details!  Find out what the venue will provide and what you need to plan for:

• Chair, tables, linens, dance floor, bars, flowers, entertainment (musicians), kitchen facilities for the caterer

• Outdoor event spaces need to have lighting for evening events. Check to see if there is lighting available or if arrangements need to be made through a vendor.

•  Rest Rooms – check rest room facilities to ensure they can handle the size of your group

•  Deliveries – are there special times/locations to be considered?

•  Ask about accommodations for guest parking

• Inquire about the availability, and fees, if any, for AV, projectors, lecterns, white boards, etc.

•  Find out when the exhibits are closed to the public ( allowing you exclusive access to the facility)

•  Clarify who is responsible for your post-event clean up – the museum, the caterer or you

•  Be aware of any hidden charges. Inquire about security, if additional staff is needed. These practices to any venues have a list of rules to be followed for events to safeguard their property and valuable treasure.s Make sure you are well acquainted with these rules and that your guests are also behaving respectfully towards the valuables in the museum.

• Liability – some facilities may require liability insurance of up to $1 million, holding you accountable for damages to the museum, exhibits or artifacts as well as injury to guests. Be informed.

• Keep food and beverage in mind – many venues do not allow red and blush wines

• Ask about other restrictions such as candles, glitter/confetti, etc. In many cases, all décor brought in by you or your planner/vendors needs to be approved by the facility.

• Keep décor to a minimum –  leverage the atmosphere of the museum or gallery to your event’s advantage

•  For any live or recorded music, inquire about time or noise level restrictions

• Alcoholic beverages/bar service (the caterers can help with direction here as well)

•  Overnight accommodations. Is there lodging within walking distance for out of town guests? Consider green hotels such as The Fairmont, Westin Washington D.C. City Center, Hotel Monaco

•  Plan for transportation to and from the event. Go green and rent hybrid vehicles or make sure overnight accommodations are within walking or car pooling distance.

• Discuss the hours when the facility is available for your event

•  Overtime chargesnegotiate in advance and put it in the contract. If your scheduled activity is delayed or guests are having a great time, you’ll want to have things in order to be able to extend your event – negotiate this with the entertainment as well.

•  Air Conditioning/Heating – check to ensure the event space is adequately conditioned for the season.  Don’t assume AC/heat is installed in the entire facility

•  Hosting an event in a time of year when guests will be wearing coats? Check for the availability of a coat check room or coat rack

Discover the beauty and uniqueness of an event at a museum or gallery, the cultural setting, historical details.

So consider a Museum or Gallery for your next meeting or event and you won’t be disappointed!