I had the pleasure of visiting Washington DC this past weekend with my family. My brother lives in the District and was able to secure tickets for the Museum of African American History and Culture. If you have not yet visited this new museum, which will celebrate it’s one year anniversary next week, you owe it to yourself to visit. It is perhaps the most well thought out museum I’ve visited, not just in DC, but throughout my travels.
One of the highlights of our visit was the fact that just as we were beginning our visit we happened across an off duty museum docent that was escorting friends. She took a few minutes to explain how the museum was laid out and a little bit of background about the timeline. She greatly added to our experience in the museum.
I love having the knowledge and insight of a docent or a guide when visiting an unfamiliar spot. Their passion is contagious and enhances your experience much more than a map, handout or guidebook ever could.
It’s been said that a traveler immerses themselves in the destination while a tourist scratches the surface. I’ve found that while a self-guided tour can certainly add value over simply walking through an exhibit there is no substitute for the knowledge of an expert. They bring to life the facts and figures you’ve read in the guidebook or internet sites.
That’s not to say that you need to pack your trip full of guides and no free time, that’s not at all the case. I recommend a nice balance of free time mixed in with the time that you will spend with a local guide or taking a tour in a museum rather than wandering through on your own.
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