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Culture & People

Museums & Monuments

Washington is home to numerous national landmarks and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. The National Mall is a large, open area in the center of the city featuring many monuments to American leaders; it also serves to connect the White House and the United States Capitol buildings. Located prominently in the centre of the Mall is the Washington Monument. Other notable points of interest near the Mall include the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, National World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the District of Columbia War Memorial and the Albert Einstein Memorial.

The world famous Smithsonian Institution is located in the District. The Smithsonian today is a collection of museums that includes the Anacostia Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, National Museum of the American Indian, National Museum of Natural History, National Portrait Gallery, National Postal Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, and the National Zoo.

There are many art museums in DC, in addition to those that are part of the Smithsonian, including the National Gallery of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection.

The Library of Congress and the National Archives house thousands of documents covering every period in American history. Some of the more notable documents in the National Archives include the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Other points of interest in the District include Arena Stage, Chinatown, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Blair House, Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Folger Shakespeare Library, Ford's Theatre, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, International Spy Museum, National Building Museum, National Geographic Society, Old Post Office Building, Theodore Roosevelt Island, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington National Cathedral and the Mount St. Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery.

Performing Arts

Washington is a major national center for the arts, with many venues for the performing arts in the city. Theatre dates back to the early 19th century when a theatre was established in Samuel Blodgett Jr's Great Hotel on E Street in 1800, soon after the capital was relocated to Washington DC The National Theatre opened in 1835 on E Street, near the White House. DAR Constitution Hall opened in 1929, and remained the city's primary concert hall until the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts opened in 1971.

DAR Constitution Hall, National Theatre and other venues remained segregated throughout the early part of the 20th century. Contralto Marian Anderson was barred from performing at Constitution Hall in 1939, instead performing at the Lincoln Memorial to large crowds. The U Street Corridor was the centre of African American culture in Washington DC. The Lincoln Theatre hosted the likes of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald on U Street prior to the 1968 riots.

Arena Stage, one of the first non-profit regional theatres in the nation produces an eight-show season ranging from classics to world premieres, dedicated to the American canon of theatre. The Shakespeare Theatre Company is regarded as one of the world's great Shakespeare troupes. Numerous other professional theatres, such as the Studio Theatre and Woolly Mammoth, and venues such as the National Theatre, make the city a major theatre centre. The Kennedy Center hosts the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, the Washington Ballet, and a variety of other musical and stage performances.

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