Back and Forth at Farragut North


The thought of K Street (and its Metro stop, Farragut North) conjures up images of law firms and lobbyists. It is a world of Keurigs, conference rooms, and consultants, where the fast casual restaurants on every block and the food trucks lining the perimeter of Farragut Square offer quick $9 lunches to throngs of people. You should never stand on the left of the escalator in any Metro station, but especially not Farragut North, where all those people in suits have somewhere they need to be. I have used this Metro station frequently, for internships, job interviews, and temp assignments.

National Geographic Museum

National Geographic Museum

An area so famed for its identity as a hub of quintessential white-collar DC workplaces might not seem like an obvious choice of a destination to visit for leisure. But there are reasons for an out-of-town visitor, or locals on their day off, to hang out here.

For one thing, the people-watching can be fascinating. There is certainly no shortage of people ascending from the three entrances to the Metro station. A person with several minutes and several dollars to spare can buy a meal from a food truck, sit on a bench in Farragut Square, and watch the crowds of individuals go by. Farragut Square also has its eponymous statue in the center; this tribute to Union admiral David G. Farragut might be of interest to Civil War buffs.

Then there’s the quiet and beautiful Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, which I have written about here. Visitors can take a self-guided tour to learn about the church’s history and religious art.

Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives.

Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives.

Finally, there are two museums directly across the street from each other that offer different-sized lenses on history. I enjoy the juxtaposition, the way a visitor can go back and forth on M Street to visit both the National Geographic Museum and the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives.

The National Geographic Museum’s exhibits examine, collectively, the whole history and natural history of the whole world. In recent years, the museum has put on exhibitions on topics such as gold in Peru, terra cotta warrior statues from a tomb in China, a slave ship taken over by pirates when it journeyed from London to the Caribbean to Cape Cod, and birds of paradise in New Guinea. Outside the museum is a pleasant courtyard (another potential place to eat that food truck lunch), with rotating photography exhibits on the outside of the building.

Across the street from this internationally-focused museum is the Sumner School, which has a localized and specialized focus. Specifically, the school-turned-museum educates the public about the history of public education in DC. When I visited a few years ago, I saw exhibits on the school system’s extracurricular activities and student life in decades past, as well as an exhibit about Adoph Cluss, the architect who designed the 1872 building.

These two museums together exemplify DC’s role as a city of national and international institutions, with a rich local history of its own.

Farragut North is on the Red Line.

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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