Aug 5, 2022 - Things to Do

Meet the TikToker who's visiting every museum in D.C.

Noelle Harada at the Laurie Anderson exhibition at the Hirshhorn.
Harada at the Hirshhorn's Laurie Anderson exhibit. Photo: Noelle Harada

Washingtonians might leave museums to tourists, but D.C. resident Noelle Harada set out to visit every museum in town in just one year. So far, she's crossed 73 off her list and has about ten left to go.

What’s happening: Harada, who works in the Office of the Surgeon General, is documenting her journey on TikTok where she includes facts and tips about each museum and rates them.

  • Of note: Harada considers anything with a learning component and a curated exhibit to be a museum. So, her list includes places like the Lincoln Memorial. 

A Chicago native, Harada started her quest simply because her dad always asked if she’d visited all of D.C.'s museums, and she got tired of saying no. 

Here are some fast facts about her visits so far:

  • Hours spent: A lot. An hour per visit would equal roughly two full workweeks.
  • Money spent: Many of the museums she’s visited are free, but some of the priciest were ARTECHOUSE ($25) and the Museum of the Bible ($20).
  • Best view: The clock tower (which has reopened) in the Old Post Office Museum.
  • Drink and learn at: The Heurich House Museum, which also has a Biergarten
  • Still on the list: The White House. She's dying to go but hasn't scored a tour ticket yet.
  • Not likely to see: The CIA Museum, since it’s in Langley and not open to the public

She says the journey through dozens of museums has made her appreciate D.C. a lot more.

  • Her favorite museums: Planet Word (which she’s already revisited) and the Postal Museum.

1 fun fact: James Smithson, whose founding donation started the Smithsonian Institution, never set foot in America. His body was brought to D.C. after his death.

Noelle Harada poses with a statue of a panda at the zoo.
Harada poses with a statue of a panda at the zoo. Photo: Noelle Harada

Here are some of the lesser-known museums Harada has visited so far and a fun fact she learned from each.

🩺 Ralph W. Hale American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Museum

  • You should know: The museum has a collection of scary-looking vibrators. In the 1800s they were used to treat “hysteria” in women by bringing them to orgasm. 

📬 National Postal Museum

  • You should know: The Railway Post Office used to have a canine mascot named Owney, who was put down after attacking a postal worker. His taxidermied body is on display at the museum.

🌎 L. Ron Hubbard House Museum

  • You should know: The Church of Scientology’s first church was converted into a museum. One exhibit focuses on founder L. Ron Hubbard's early life – he was an Eagle Scout. 

💐 Hillwood Estate Museum and Garden

  • You should know: Marjorie Merriweather Post, of the Post cereal empire, owned the estate and was one of the most successful businesswomen of her time. The museum grounds include beautiful gardens and even a putting green. 

Other museums you probably haven’t heard of: the D.C. Fire and EMS Museum, the American Poetry Museum, the National Deaf Life Museum, the Old Korean Legation Museum, and the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. Follow Harada on TikTok to see where she goes next.

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