Just off Dupont Circle, you will find a mansion on O Street in Washington, D.C. Once three row houses connected together (now five thanks to H.H. Leonards), this mega mansion is a testament to the creative process and diversity, whether it be through art, music, the sciences or sports.
In our effort to highlight all of the best museums in Washington, D.C, we spoke with the staff at the O Museum in The Mansion, to share what makes this museum special, why you should visit, and what you need to know before you go.
Where is the O Museum in The Mansion located?
Location: O Museum in The Mansion, 2020 O Street N.W., Washington, DC 20036
What topics does the museum cover?
O Museum celebrates the works of people who have devoted themselves to bettering the lives of others. Our mission is to empower people to do what they love — dare to be different — and have fun. We inspire creativity, diversity and imagination through the fusion of the arts, science and sports.
History of O Museum
O Museum was originally built by Edward Clark, architect for the US Capitol, in 1892 as a series of three row homes connected through the basement and main floor. It was meant to be four homes connected together, one for each brother plus their sister. The sister’s home was never completed.
Various businesses moved in throughout the years after Clark sold the property in the 1930s. O Mansion was home to Hoover’s G-Men (FBI agents). It was also a recording studio for “America’s Black Forum”, a nationally syndicated news broadcast, and “Sounds of the City”, a black radio series, as well as offices for UniWorld Group, Inc.
Fast forward to 1980 when Ms. H.H. Leonard bought the property, adding on two more row homes for a total of five. Leonard hosted Mrs. Rosa Parks whenever Parks was in Washington, D.C., creating a safe place for Parks to recover after a 1994 assault. Parks would host monthly Sunday gospel brunches, visit with friends and dignitaries in her rooms on the third floor.
Today, the O Street Museum Foundation continues to inspire forward thinking, creativity in
What is the O Museum in The Mansion’s claim to fame?
O Museum in The Mansion is home to over 100 rooms, 70 secret doors, legendary themed rooms and unique exhibits including the Pop Culture Room, John Lennon Room, The Log Cabin, Safari Room and Mrs. Rosa Parks Room (she lived there for 10 years)
What is your favorite exhibit or artifact in the museum?
All of our exhibits are unique and inspiring — there is something for everyone.
What kinds of special exhibits and events do you host throughout the year?
We host music and storytelling experiences, author and artist talks, panel discussions with film makers, visionaries, pioneers and much more. Our exhibits rotate and change daily — every day is different at O Museum.
Are there guided tours available?
Many of our tours and treasure hunts are self-guided because we encourage exploration. We also have some specialty tours like our American Sign Language Tour, Penthouse Tour, and Mrs. Rosa Parks Tour.
On-line reservations are required for all tours: omuseum.org/visit
How much time should someone plan to spend at the museum?
There’s so much to explore, guests can spend anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours and more in the mansion.
What should someone bring with them and what items are not allowed in the museum?
Bring your own shopping bag – everything is for sale at O Museum.
Is photography allowed inside (without flash)?
You may photograph our themed rooms and exhibits inside the museum. Be sure to tag us @omansion when you post. We LOVE to share!!
What should parents of young children know before visiting the museum?
Kids love exploring our themed rooms and searching for secret doors.
Please note: children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. (1 adult to every 4 kids is required)
What’s the coolest item for sale in the gift shop?
WOW! That’s a tough one because everything is for sale. Maybe Prince’s Purple Rain Jacket, or Bob Dylan’s signed guitar or Miss USA’s crown or the signed poster from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”… we can’t choose!
Is there a museum cafe or restaurant?
You can reserve a food tour in advance on our website – our chef is phenomenal and our pastry chef is top 10 in the country – YUM!
What should teachers planning a field trip know before reaching out to you?
Kids learn by doing when they visit and we have a number of different tours that students and teachers love, including our Secret Door Tour and our Mrs. Rosa Parks Tour. Reservations can be made right on our website: omuseum.org/visit
What else should a visitor know before visiting?
We are a Historic Site on The African American Heritage Trail. We were named “The Coolest Place in DC” by Booking.com.
What are your normal days and hours of operation?
We are open daily 11am – 5pm based on availability. Advance on-line reservations are required to tour. omuseum.org/visit
Is the museum accessible?
Yes. We are ADA compliant.
Does the museum have a bag check or coat room?
Is there parking available?
On-street parking near O Museum in The Mansion is limited. We recommend booking convenient and affordable parking in advance here: omuseum.org/parking
Is there an admission fee?
There is an admission fee to tour. To learn more and reserve any of our available tours and treasure hunts visit omuseum.org/visit.
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This post was published by Keryn Means, a Washington DC travel expert, and the editor and publisher of DC Travel Magazine. Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of those links we will receive a small commission.
Washington, D.C. Travel Resources
Your Washington, D.C. vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve got the resources you need to plan your trip and make the most out of your time in the city and surrounding area. If this is your first time to the capital region, check out our Washington, D.C. trip planner and itineraries.
For transportation, check out our D.C. driving guide and our guide on how to ride the metro. For those flying in, you’ll want to read our guides to BWI, DCA and IAD airports.
Dive into our things to do in D.C., which is always being updated and evolving to make sure you have the latest and greatest activities to fill your checklist of things to do. Don’t forget about food, the real reason we all travel, right? Our Washington, D.C. restaurant guide will get you started and lead you into neighborhoods full of delicious treats.
Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
Budget: When it comes to Washington, D.C. budget hotels, prices vary depending on the season. In the middle of October, a four-star hotel could be under $150, while in December it may be over $400. At any given time of year, though, Hotel Hive is a safe bet for value when it comes to resting your head. If you are looking for a hostel, Hi Washington D.C. Downtown is well located for exploring all of the D.C. museums, restaurants and bars at the fraction of the price of a hotel. Check rates and availability here.
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Washington DC Rental Car
If you just flew in , you probably need a rental car. Although you can certainly take the Metro most places, especially if you fly into DCA, you may want a rental car to get out and explore. Find the best priced and availability HERE.
Planning a Trip to Washington, D.C.? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Whether you are traveling domestically or coming from an international destination, travel insurance is a must for anyone coming to Washington, D.C. You will be exploring both inside and outdoors; hiking may even happen if you get adventurous. You could find yourself on a Segway or bike tour. The city is highly populated and accidents and crime do happen. This is not to scare you, but to prepare you for what could occur when you are checking out the free museums, exploring neighborhoods, finding the best food and learning about the local street art. Should something happen, travel insurance has you covered.
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