The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton and a group of like – minded people in Washington, D.C on 21 May, 1881. Barton, on her visit to Europe right after the Civil War, heard of the International Red Cross Society. This gave her the idea to start a similar movement in America. She then campaigned for an American Red Cross, which was finally founded in 1881.
For 23 years Barton led the American Red Cross, which conducted domestic and international disaster relief programs. The American Red Cross also was of immense help to the United States military during the Spanish-American war. In line with the international chapters of the Red Cross Society, American Red Cross Society, too conducted peacetime relief work.
During World War I, even skeptics acknowledged the critical role the American Red Cross was playing in the life of the nation. Eager to help, many Americans registered and the organization grew phenomenally. The Second World War again saw the American Red Cross Society galvanized into action. While the Red Cross multiplied its efforts to conduct training programs in nursing, safety training et al, it also started the first nationwide civilian blood program.
Today, the Red Cross charter states that the purpose of the American Red Cross is to ‘give relief and serve as a means of communication between members of the American armed forces and their families, and providing national and international disaster relief and mitigation.’
The American Red Cross headquarters comprises four buildings. A 60-minute tour is conducted at the oldest of them, a building of white marble built in neoclassical style. The tour is a quick way to browse through a visual history of the American Red Cross. Additionally, the fact that the building is not really a museum, but a working office, allows the visitor to get a feel of how the Red Cross really functions. A docent guides the group through the tour attractions. The highlight of the tour is the set of three Tiffany Windows.
Besides, other important tour attractions are an original Norman Rockwell painting, sculptures, several paintings of the Red Cross volunteers at work by Cameron Burnside, a few personal belongings of Clara Barton, and two signature quilts.
The Tiffany Glass Windows
The spectacular Tiffany Glass Windows are supposed to be ‘the largest suite of Tiffany windows created for a secular environment’.
The left panel depicts Sant Filomena from HW Longfellow’s eponymous poem, and her attending maidens- Hope, Mercy, Faith and Charity.
The central panel shows a scene of war. At the feet of a mounted warrior lies a fallen soldier who is receiving aid from a comrade- the need for humanity even when the war is on.
The third panel shows Una and all her maidens. Good deeds, symbolized by the flowers, overflow from her apron. The theme of this panel is love and wisdom.
In all the three glass windows the Red Cross emblem figures prominently.
American Red Cross Museum Map
Facts about American Red Cross Museum
- During the First World War, the number of local chapters went up to 3,864 from 107, and the number of members went up to 31million from a meager 17000.
- Public support for Red Cross during World War I, was huge- a staggering 400 million dollars in funds and materials.
- The Red Cross blood program meets more than 40% of the needs of blood and blood products in America.
- Red Cross services cover five critical areas as on date- people affected by disaster in America, support to military members and their families, blood banks, health and safety education and training, international relief.
- In 1965, the National Red Cross building was designated a Historical Landmark.
- The American Red Cross Society had a museum, but that closed in 2005.
Where is American Red Cross Museum?
Address: 430 17th Street, Washington, DC 20006, United States
Reach by Air
The nearest international airport is Washington Dulles International Airport. From there, it is a distance of 28 miles, if a visitor takes the Dulles Access Road and the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
A cab will take 35 minutes to cover the distance.
Reach by Rail
The nearest railway station is the Union Station. From there, a cab will take a visitor to the National Red Cross Museum in 15 minutes via Constitution Avenue NW in 15 minutes.
Best time to visit American Red Cross Museum
The weather in Washington is really pleasant from the months of February to June. The cherry blossoms that come in March draw a lot of visitors too. The fall season that arrives in September, is a pleasant time to make a trip to the American capital.
American Red Cross Museum Hours
April – October : 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
November – March : 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed on : 24, 25, 31 december and 1 january
American Red Cross Museum Tickets
Tours are free. However, since the tours take place on only two days of a week, and only 15 people can be accommodated in a single tour- please make reservations in advance.
More on American Red Cross Museum
What are the coordinates of National Red Cross Museum, Washington D.C.?
38.89º N, 77.04º W
What are the important places around the National Red Cross Museum, Washington D.C.?
The places of interest near National Red Cross Museum in Washington, D.C., are the Lincoln Memorial, White House, Arlington Cemetery, Washington Monument, Eisenhower Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Related : Washington DC Location Map | Washington City Map