Physical artifacts, buildings and historic places are important markers of cultural heritage. Their meanings and associations inform viewers’ perceptions of the world, while their materiality provides a tangible connection to past people and events. When displayed publicly, these markers provide a concrete basis for historical narratives, and can serve to validate ideas about contemporary society and to shape ideas about the future. Museums and monuments take on particular significance in the nation’s capital, seat of political power and figurative heart of the nation. On the National Mall, grand monuments to historic figures and events and the stately buildings of the Smithsonian Institution bespeak power and grandeur. A more detailed examination of the city’s collections and cultural landmarks reveals diverse, and sometimes conflicting or contradictory narratives about the nation. This course will examine how cultural heritage is deployed in Washington, DC, how various constituencies are represented, and how the cultural landscape of the nation’s capital is informed by discourses of power, knowledge, memory, and identity.