The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has some amazing exhibits. It's a very enjoyable outing. They DO tend to push their theories as fact, but if you can overlook that eccentricity you should have a fine time indeed.
ALL Smithsonian Museums have FREE admission.
My daughter's nickname is Bear because she is not happy about getting up early. So when we went to the Natural History Museum, of course we had to take some pictures of her with the bears. They had places where you could compare your hand to the bear claws.
The Natural History Museum section where the animals are in dioramas is always a favorite. Now they do seem to have animals outside the dioramas 'in action'. Like a tiger springing through the wall or a cheetah up in a tree with prey
The Museum is open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
The Star Spangled Banner. It's probably the most recognizable anthem in the world, and it was inspired by one piece of cloth: the American flag flying over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The story goes that after a night of fierce bombardment by British forces, Francis Scott Key was so astonished to see the American flag still flying, that he was inspired to write what became the American national anthem: "O say can you see by the dawn's early light..."
That tattered flag now lies in the National Museum of American History, protected by filtered, dehumidified air, thick glass walls and a flash photography ban. A steady stream of people is shepherded past the flag, in the dark, and in as much awe as Francis Scott Key the morning he penned the anthem. It's impressive enough even if you aren't American to think of how important that piece of cloth is to a nation of 300 million people. And it's big as well: Two storeys are used to host it, and that even when it is lying at an angle.
There's more in the museum. Much more. I was really quite surprised by how many interesting exhibits they managed to squeeze into the museum of a nation with such a short history. But America has packed in a lot of history into those few years. Along with inventions, art, currency, and transportation, you've got really unique items like Bob Dylan's leather jacket and Dorothy's slippers from the Wizard of Oz. It's not your typical European history museum and kids especially will love it for that.
This exhibition runs through April 21, 2013. But don't worry, it comes back on a regular basis.
This exhibition shows the variety of orchids that are native to Latin America, it shows them in various settings, around the house, in the wild of the rainforest. For the orchid enthusiast it was a very nice exhibit, with a lot of variety, some great color and some truly beautiful orchids.
In honesty I thought the display somewhat difficult to follow for someone who didn't really know what they were looking at. It does show the various families of orchids and how widespread they are. Usually exhibitions at the Smithsonian have excellent explanations and descriptions, this seemed to be more geared towards looking at the flowers with less explanation.
It's a pretty exhibit. Free.
*** quite dark in some places so not easy to take good photos.
Like all the Smithsonian Museums, admission to the National Museum of Natural History is FREE. The Museum is one of the largest museums within the Mall and houses tens of thousands of artifacts and specimens that tell the story of earth's evolution. Until you actually enter its grand hall entrance, you have no idea how grand and spectacular this museum is. When we started with the idea of going there, I told my husband I had already visited one in Atlanta, GA and that I did not think they were any different. My daughter however would not allow me to get off easily, she was only a year and a half when we went to the museum of Natural History in Atlanta and she really does not remember it.
We went in anyway because we needed to be indoors to shield Alexander and ourselves from the unmerciful feel of the heat and humidity outdoors. It was crowded beyond description; it was 5:15 pm and we had walked a little distance from the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Security was strict but the lines were moving quite fast. Soon we were indoors; the giant elephant in the middle of the rotunda grabbed our attention immediately. My daughter did not seem fazed by it; she wanted to go see the dinosaurs. The African bush elephant looks like its walking on its native land without a care in the world.
We were thirsty and in need of coffee/ tea/ drink before we could continue our tour. We headed to the ground floor to the Atrium Café where the lines looked like those at a camp. People lining up for pizza looked like high school kids at lunch waiting to be served. We did not join the line however; we proceeded to the left side where the rest of everyone not ordering pizza was going. We ended up ordering full meals and drinks while we were at it. Take a look at my review of the Atrium Café.
Once we were fed and hydrated, we headed straight to the Dinosaur section which by the way is outstanding. The first thing you see is the tall panel with the timeline of evolution, and right passed it the giant fossilized bones of dinosaurs restored to the actual sizes as were in pre-historic times. At the center is a 90 foot tall Diplodocus longus found in Utah in 1923, and the 40 foot tall Tyrannosaurus rex. We followed the exhibition all through the different ages up until the Stone Age.
We then proceeded to the special exhibition on Africa and on through the ocean exhibition. We did not pay much attention to the latter two as we were headed out by this time. We plan to return to complete touring the rest of the museum. I highly recommend taking the children with, but child or not, you will be entertained and engaged at the museum. Choose from Dinosaurs, Life in the Ocean, Mummies, Butterflies, Bones, Forensic Anthropology, Mammals, Human Origins, to birds. The choices are many. With free entrance, there is no reason not to go.
There are 3 Cafes to eat at when you get hungry; The Atrium Cafe and Cafe Natural are on the ground floor, and the Fossil Cafe located in the Dinosaur Hall.
For souvenirs, postcard and more, the museum store on the ground floor and Gem store second floor will serve you.
Hours of operation: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm daily, closed on Christmas day.
The Smithsonian Natural History Museum, featured in Night at the Museum, is one of the most popular museums on the National Mall. And for good reason - the museum has many great exhibits that are educational and fun for kids and adults alike. For this reason, it can get a little crowded will field trips and such, but a visit to Washington DC would not be complete without a stop at the museum. A few special exhibits have a fee, but admission to the museum itself is absolutely free. You will have to pass a security checkpoint to enter, however.
The main exhibits on the first floor include fossils, human evolution, the oceans, and mammals. The fossils exhibit displays skeletons from giant prehistoric dinosaurs and mammoths to tiny microorganisms that were the first life to evolve on earth. There is also a fossil lab where scientists are working. When we visited, one scientist was available to talk to visitors about the work that was being performed. The mammals exhibit has stuffed mammal specimens on display representing creatures from around the world.
The main exhibits on the second floor include the insect zoo and butterfly pavilion, the Hope Diamond and National Gem Collection, and bones. There is a small fee ($6) to enter the butterfly pavilion, but its a great exhibit and I would recommend checking it out. It's basically a greenhouse with hundreds of butterflies fluttering about - absolutely beautiful. The gem and mineral exhibit is also really neat. Of course the Hope Diamond is the most famous gem on display, but there are hundreds of other interesting specimens to view as well. I really liked the mineral rainbow, demonstrating the diverse colors of different minerals, and fluorescent minerals that glow in the dark.
The Museum became even more popular after “Night at the museum” movie. If you kid is not a museum fan tell her (him) it’s the same museum as at that movie, they will start looking for familiar exhibitions and get involved. The museum is a very interesting (for a natural history one). The collection of jewelry was impressive and rich; also we liked dinosaurs and space exhibitions collections. One day is too much for this place, 2-3 hours is enough to explore the whole place and get hungry. (Food is not cheap at the museum, plus mostly sweets,but museum is free of charge!!!).
We visited the National Museum of Natural History at the end of our DC trip so we were kind of tired and didn’t really enjoy it. I don’t know, maybe this type of museum doesn’t impress me anymore because I have seen many of them. Of course, the noisy kids that were everywhere around seemed to have a different point of view while they were driving their teachers go mad :)
What you can see here are the usual suspects, big mammals, dinosaurs, tons of info about earth, humans etc The most popular exhibit here is the Hope Diamond but I spend more time checking the panel that was showing (in real time) the current world population! It was funny/weird to see the number going up slowly second by second…
Fascinating museum - we came here just to see the Hope Diamond, and ended up visiting the exhibits of dinosaurs, mummies, extinct birds, and underwater creatures. So very interesting - we would have stayed longer, but our time ran out.
If you and/or your kids have seen "Night at the Smithsonian", you MUST visit this museum! It is so cool to see in person the things you saw "come to life" on the big screen! :-)
More themed gift shops, and again, admission is FREE!
We headed here as we had read about the insect section and Aj is truly fond of capturing them with his camera however we were clean bowled by the dinosaur section and the ocean hall!! I can only imagine the thrill a kid would have at visiting these!!
With varied exhibits-from the Hope diamond to african animals you get to see many interesting things here! We love the way that all museums in DC are free of charge and accessible to all!
The museum also houses three cafes, so you have a good chance of getting what you want to eat here. :-) We went to the one on level one- Fossil Cafe and really liked the Cafe Latte and Banana muffins we had!
As soon as you enter the rotunda houses a giant elephant that looks so real you will not believe it! Even the Mammal Hall is amazing. I shall put a separate tip on the same to show you what I mean!
The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History contain many exhibits related to man, the planet and the stars. You'll find dinosaur bones, rocks and minerals, volcanos, the cosmos and human history spread throughout the museum.
Like all the Smithsonian Museums, there are so many exhibits you could spend all day and still not see them all. There were so many interesting things to see, but I think my favorites were the dinosaurs. Guess I'm just a big kid at heart.
One of my favorite reasons why D.C.'s free museums are wonderful is the Insect Zoo inside te Natural History Museum. I visit the zoo often, even though the rest of the museum doesn't get much of my attention.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is just fantastic! Plenty of exhibits to see and some short films to observe. The museum is free but some special exhibits may cost a fee. I think my favorite part was the gems and minerals. They have amassed an amazing collection of them. If you know how crystals are formed and see what they have, it's outrageous how nature can create such beautiful pieces. The Hope Diamond is also displayed here but I was really impressed with a display of matching yellow diamond set (necklace, ring, and earrings). Upon entry you will go through a security check. I think it's standard procedure for many of the institutions in town. A definite "must see" when you're in DC!
This museum is mostly entertaining for students and anyone interested in paleontology, evolution of species, geology and formation of rocks. My favorite area was the one devoted to gems and minerals. The museum exhibits a wide range of precious stones and jewelry from across the world, donated to the museum due to their size and worth.
Their most famous one is the Hope Diamond, a 45.52-carat blue diamond, regarded as the largest of its kind. Among the previous owners of this gem, found in India in the early XVII century, are King Louis XIV of France, George IV of England and Henry Philip Hope, for whom the stone is named after. Eventually Pierre Cartier acquired the stone and sold it to Evalyn Walsh McLean, and American lady from Washington DC. At her death, Harry Winston bought the diamond and later donated it to the Smithsonian collection. Now this gem is surrounded by 16 diamonds, and attached to a chain containing 45 more diamonds!
This museum is currently closed for major renovations, until Fall 2008. However, in order to have a glimpse of this museum's collection, since Nov. 2006 there is an exhibition with more than a hundred of representative objects, named Treasures of American History. This exhibition will take place in the Air and Space Museum until April 13, 2008.
These objects cover American history (e.g the hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night of his killing, the first bulb of Thomas Alva Edison, or the first phone of Alexander Graham Bell) and culture. This includes movies (e.g. Wizard of Oz's scarecrew and Dorothy's red shoes), sports (Muhammed Ali's gloves, Babe Ruth autographed ball), television (e.g. Sarah Jessica Parker's computer in Sex and the City, or Archie Bunker's sofa), movies (e.g. Return of the Jedi's C3P0 and R2D2) politics (e.g. hats from political campaigns) and icons (e.g. Jackie Kennedy's outfit for her first appearance as First Lady).
You can get more information of the exhibition in http://americanhistory.si.edu/treasures
If you go after April... sorry, seems you'll have to wait until the museum reopens :(