S.I.Natural History Museum, Washington D.C.
Visitng one or all of the museums is a must while you pay a visit to the DC area. The best part of visiting the museums is they are free.
You could spend a full day visiting, one, two or as many musuems as you wish. This particular museum houses over 124 million artifacts, and only a fraction are on display.
You can find artifacts from many cultures from all over the world. From fossils to land and see creatures, plants, and the all famous HOPE DIAMOND.
I only had about an hour or so to visit this museum, naturally my first stop was to see the Hope diamond, the monster sized blue gem from India. Other "trinkets" you will find in this museum include a stunning pair of diamond earrings owned by Marie Antoinette and an impressive diamond and turquoise crown and diamond necklace given to Empress Marie Louise from Napoleon.
After gawking at the gems, I wandered down to the stuffed animal collection and then it was time to go home.
When one thinks of the Museum of Natural History, dinosaur skeletons are the first thing to come to mind. That delights the kids, but there are also plantlife, geological, and other animal life exhibits. This and the Air and Space Museum are probably the most popular Smithsonian museums visited by school groups. I remember coming up here after my 8th birthday and they had a life-sized likeness of a Triceratops, a three-horned, quadriped herbivore in the Cretaceous period. It was so big that most of a school group could ride on its back and that was a medium-sized dinosaur.
I love this place. It is SO cool. I'm not even sure that I can do it justice here, so you will just have to go! But I will try: This museum features artifacts and exhibits demonstrating the earth's natural history. Here you can see in a single afternoon their extensive gem and mineral collection which includes the Hope Diamond and real meteors, fossils from dinosaurs of every stripe, including full-scale skeletons, petrified trees, objects from Ancient Egypt, Rome, and the city of Pompeii, and a huge exhibit on the evolution of human beings. There is also an insect zoo, skeletons from almost every known animal on earth, and their rotating exhibits which change every few months. They have a great cafeteria on the ground level and some really nice gift shops, too. There is also an IMAX theatre here that charges admission, though the museum itself is free.
Since I mentioned the Geology, Gems and Minerals Collection is one of my favorite collections in the Natural History Museum, I have to have at least one gratuitous mention of the Hope Diamond!!
If you see the Geology, Gems and Minerals Collection...you have to stop by and visit the Hope diamond...the most famous diamond in the world!! Most people do not know the story of its curse. According to legend, the diamond was stolen from the forehead of an idol in India by a man named Tavernier. With it, a curse of death or illness fell upon all who owned or touched it. He was the first to fall under the curse after being torn apart by wild dogs after he had sold the diamond. It was also owned by King Louis XIV and passed down to King Louis XVI, who with his wife Marie Antoinette went bankrupt. However, the diamond was named after Henry Philip Hope. In 1839 the diamond was listed as belonging to him. His family died in poverty.
The fame with which the stone holds most in American history is within its last owner, Evalyn Walsh McLean, a millionairess with a flamboyant nature and expensive tastes. It was sold to her by Cartier. Whether you want to believe in the curse or not, there was an chain of events afterwards that seemingly fulfilled the promise of the curse. Evalyn's first son was killed in an automobile accident. Her own husband, a chronic alcholic, runs off for another woman only to eventually die in a sanitarium. Before Evalyn died in 1946, her 25 year old daughter died from an overdose of sleeping pills.
In 1949, Harry Winston purchased the diamond and sent the diamond on a nine year goodwill tour. In 1958, after its long history through time, Harry Winston donated it to the American people and it finally came to rest at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. It now sits under three inches of bullet proof glass in the Harry Winston room.
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!
the museum of natural history is a huge museum with both collections of living creatures and prehistoric fossils. some of the must see attractions of the museum is the dinosaur hall, the orkin insect zoo, hall of mammals, and of course the hope diamond. at 45.52 carats the hope diamond is the largest blue diamond in the world. this diamond once belonged to king louis XVI of france. you can easily spend a whole day taking in the exhibits of this interesting museum.
I really love the Smithsonian Natural History Museum (always had since I was a child). When you attend grade school close to the nation's capital, it is inevitable that you should see every major tourist attraction before leaving for college. I remember my favorite collections in the museum were always the insects and the gems/minerals.
The museum has of course gotten a lot more sophisticated since I was a child, like adding the IMAX theater. There is also an exhibit of oceanic proportions...the sea creatures exhibit. However, the mammoth that sits underneath the rotunda is STILL there!!! There is much to be said about consistency!
We went here primarily to see the Hope Diamond and it is worth the stop. However there are some 125 million specimens in the museum focusing on the earth and its evolution. There are tons of displays of animals, fossils, minerals, cultural artifacts and plants. Time kept us from doing much more than walking through a couple of exhibit halls, but there is something about stuffed animals that does not appeal to me. So, on to the Hope Diamond for us.
The diamond has a somewhat checkered history. It is said to have been purchased in crudely cut form by a French traveling merchant and sold to Louis XIV who had it cut and set in gold so he could wear it on ceremonial occasions. Not surprisingly it disappeared during the French Revolution. It passed through several owners including the Hope family who owned it for about 60 years. It ended up with the New York diamond dealer, Harry Winston Company who eventually donated it to the Smithsonian in 1958. In the pendant where it is now set, there are 61 smaller diamonds - all in all a pretty impressive bauble.
The Smithsonian is an educational and research institution administered by the US Government.
Most of the Facilities are in Washington DC comprises of 19 museums.
I went to visit the Museum of Natural History which I found to be very big and very informative, with lots to see. I did not spend much time in there, as I am not much of a museum person, but what I did manage to see looked very interesting!
It also had a very big exibition on Africa, and as I am from there, I did really not want to see all of what I already know, but very educational still.
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.
This is one of the grandest, most fascinating museums of natural history in the world. It covers the evolution of life, geology, and much more. It also has an IMAX movie theater. If you see one museum on the Mall, it's a virtual toss-up between this and the Air and Space Museum.
One of the most famous, and visited, attractions is the storied Hope Diamond. This rare blue diamond is mounted on a rotating turntable, so that all can see it. Everyone hopes to get a good look, so don't spend too long enjoying it.
Attention jazz lovers! Friday night, from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, the museum has live jazz. There is a $10.00 charge, and it's worth it.
Located along the National Mall along with the Smithsonian's other museums, the National Museum of American History is one of Washington's (as well as the U.S.'s) most comprehensive collection of the history of the American state. Exhibits here range from the historical to the cultural to the recent. Ancient times, such as the Native Americans, are documented here, as well as the first European colonization, the arrival of Africans, independence, the industrial revolution, the wars, and the modern day. All the good, the bad, the ugly, the fun, and the downright interesting spanning American history is displayed here.
Other exhibits include items of popular and historical American culture: Archie Bunker's chair, Dorothy's red shoes, the first televisions and light bulbs, Ella Fitzgerald's belongings, Julia Child's kitchen, Lincoln's top hat, Calvin Coolidge's wife's '20s flapper dress, the first American naval ship USS Philadelphia (sunk in 1776, raised in 1935 !!!), Benjamin Franklin's printing press, Japanese-American internment camp signs, a pair of shoes found in the World Trade Center rubble, even a recreated early 20th century ice cream parlor where you can get a snack.
Overall, this museum is fun for family, intellectuals, history junkies or people wanting to discover a little bit more American history, and is highly recommend it if you're in Washington.
The museum is open daily from 10 to 5:30. All admission is free.
Another branch of the Smithsonian's long list of museums, the National Museum of Natural Museum is argueably one of the best natural history museums in the Americas, easily sitting next to the Field Museum in Chicago and the American Museum in New York. Upon entering the building, you're immediately greeted by a towering African elephant, looking like it's ready to run right at you.
Some of the exhibits included in the museum are areas dedicated extensively to the beginning of the planet, some of the oldest fossils ever discovered, the first animals, the dinosaur eras, the Ice Age, geology, evolution, and native cultures found throughout the world.
One of the great treasures of the Natural History museum is the Hope Diamond, one of the largest (and most infamous) diamonds ever discovered. Legend has it that it's cursed everyone that has owned it, from European nobility to American businessmen. With that kind of track record, you're probably best not to touch it, or get anywhere near it.
This museum is simply a must for anyone visiting the Washington area
Like all other Smithsonian museums, admission is entirely free. Hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Summer hours (between May 23 and September 1 are from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m