Find the history and legacy of American Independence at Anderson House

Dig into American history and the legacy of American independence at Anderson House, the headquarters of the American Revolution Institute. Former home of a U.S. diplomat, the museum collections include paintings, sculptures, historic artifacts, manuscripts, maps, manuscripts and books.

In our effort to highlight all of the best museums in Washington, D.C, we spoke with Meaghan White, Media Relations Manager at the Anderson House headquarters of the American Revolution Institute to share what makes this museum special, why you should visit, and what you need to know before you go.

Anderson House headquarters of the American Revolution Institute
credit The Society of the Cincinnati

Where is the American Revolution Institute located?

Location: Anderson House headquarters of the American Revolution Institute, 2118 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20008

What topics does the museum cover?

Anderson House, the home of the American Revolution Institute, is a vibrant, elegant center for exploring the history and legacy of the achievement of American independence.

Located along Embassy Row in the heart of Washington’s historic Dupont Circle neighborhood, Anderson House welcomes visitors from around the world for the Institute’s programs.

A Quick History of Anderson House

Anderson House was built as the Washington, D.C. winter residence of Larz Anderson, an American diplomat, and his wife, Isabel towards the end of America’s gilded age (1870s- 1900). Completed in 1905, the fifty-room mansion had a walled garden, tennis court and three-story carriage house and stable.

During the Washington social season, Larz and Isabel hosted dinners, concerts and performances, inviting notable families and individuals such as Presidents William H. Taft, President Calvin Coolidge, Henry A. du Pont and members of the Vanderbilt family.

After Larz died in 1937, Anderson House and its contents were gifted to the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization in which he was a devoted member for many year. Anderson House was later declared a National Historic Landmark in 1939, and has been open to the public as a historic Washington home and museum ever since.

What is your museum’s claim to fame?

Anderson House, the home of the American Revolution Institute, is a vibrant, elegant center for exploring the history and legacy of the achievement of American independence.

Anderson House headquarters of the American Revolution Institute
credit The Society of the Cincinnati

What is your favorite exhibit or artifact in the museum?

My favorite is the current exhibition in the museum at Anderson house, “America’s First Veterans.” It brings together paintings, artifacts, prints and documents to address the post-war experiences of the men who won the Revolutionary War—not the famous generals and leading officers whose names appear in histories of the war, but rather the junior officers and enlisted men whose stories are less often told.

A centerpiece of the show is John Neagle’s arresting portrait of a destitute veteran of the Revolution, painted in 1830 in the midst of the fight for comprehensive federal pensions for the remaining Revolutionary War veterans.

The exhibition also includes one of two reputed examples of the Badge of Military Merit, the Revolutionary War precursor to the modern Purple Heart, on loan from the American Independence Museum, Exeter, NH and the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Hampshire.

What kinds of special exhibits and events do you host throughout the year?

Visitors to Anderson House can enjoy a tour of the mansion, view the current temporary exhibition and conduct research in the Institute’s library. The Institute also hosts events throughout the year for visitors of all ages to learn more about the American Revolution and its legacy.

Anderson House headquarters of the American Revolution Institute
credit The Society of the Cincinnati

Are there guided tours available?

Yes, visitors see the first and second floors of Anderson House on guided tours led by expert museum docents. Tours begin at 15 minutes past each hour and last approximately one hour.

The first tour begins at 10:15 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday. The last tour begins at 3:15 p.m. each day.

NOTE: Self-guided tours of the house are not permitted.

Is photography allowed inside (without flash)?

Photography with hand-held cameras is permitted on tours.

Is there a museum cafe or restaurant?

No.

What should teachers planning a field trip know before reaching out to you?

Tours of Anderson House for groups of 10 or more visitors require advanced registration. Groups are limited to 56 visitors, due to space constraints in some rooms. Groups are not reserved until confirmed in writing by the staff.

What else should a visitor know before visiting?

Self-guided tours of the house are not permitted.

Anderson House headquarters of the American Revolution Institute
credit The Society of the Cincinnati

What are your normal days and hours of operation?

Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Is the museum accessible?

Yes.

Does the museum have a bag check or coat room?

Yes.

Is there parking available?

There is no on-site parking at Anderson House. There are a number of hotel parking garages accessible to the public located within several blocks of Anderson House. On-street parking is limited.

Short-term loading and unloading space for buses is available on Massachusetts Avenue directly in front of Anderson House.

Is there an admission fee?

Admission is free and open to the public. No reservations are needed except for groups of 10 or more visitors.

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