National Museum of Asian Art

Washington, DC

This is a lovely spot in which to while away a Washington afternoon. Japanese silk scrolls, smiling Buddhas, rare Islamic manuscripts and Chinese jades are exhibited in cool, quiet galleries in two museums connected by an underground tunnel. The museum also houses works by American painter James Whistler, including five Nocturnes. Don't miss the extraordinarily beautiful blue-and-gold Peacock Room on its ground floor, designed by Whistler in 1876–77 as an exotic showcase for a shipping magnate's Chinese porcelain collection.

Like all Smithsonian institutions, the venues host free lectures, concerts and film screenings; the ones here typically have an Asian bent. The website has the schedule.

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