Results 1-10of 17 Reviews
West Virginia, West Virginia
July 26, 2010
From journal Smithsonian 101
heber ctity, Utah
July 11, 2007
I found the Museum of Natural History to be the best of the Smithsonian Museums. Enter from the Mall into the Rotunda, where one of the largest known elephants is on display. The top sights include Dinosaur Hall; the Hope Diamond (the world’s largest diamond) and other spectacular jewels; the world’s first living coral reef in an aquarium, and, what with global warming killing all the coral in Nature, soon to be the only place to see a coral reef; and the Blue Whale (in the room behind the coral reef display), a life sized model of the largest animal ever. Dinosaur Hall has a monster Brontosaurus, but you will be amazed by the size of the Blue Whale in comparison.Arrive at the Hope Diamond by the Hall of Minerals, as interesting collection of minerals of the world, and leave by the other entrance to the room where the jewels are to see the world’s largest intact meteorite. The museum also has a number of dioramas depicting scenes of wildlife from around the world. These are pretty good. The collection of stuffed birds is a mind boggling display of the variety of nature– who knew there so many birds? The mounted display of Butterflies is remarkable, especially the ones with psychedelic wings. There are several galleries of native New World culture– dioramas, totem poles, Aztec calendars, Indian handicrafts, etc. Parents can dump, er, leave their kids at the insect petting zoo while they explore the museum, but the zoo is worth a quick look for everyone. Opposite the Rotunda entrance is a flight of stair and an escalator going down to the Constitution Ave. Entrance. At the bottom of the stairs is an impressive stuffed Tiger mounted in a leaping position. The lower level entrance lobby features rotating displays that are almost always of interest. The best display the Smithsonian ever had was a large room in the Natural History Museum called "Splendors of Nature". After decades on display, they replaced it, the biggest mistake the Federal government ever made. A small part of "Splendors of Nature" remains on display in this lobby.
The Smithsonian Members’ Dining Room is also on this floor. If you subscribe to the Smithsonian Magazine, you are a member. Bring your membership card(or the address label from a copy of The Smithsonian Magazine) for admission to the Member’s Dining room for lunch(from the Constitution Ave. entrance, bear right past the escalator to the Auditorium lobby, and right again the Dining Room). This is some of the best food available on the Mall, and the only buffet all-you-can-eat lunch. It is especially crowded on Sundays. It’s not immediately apparent, but there are two identical serving lines on the long counter, one starting at each end and meeting in the middle.
From journal Insider's Washington, D.C.
Lake Forest, California
November 20, 2006
From journal Washington, D.C.
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
October 8, 2006
From journal Washington -- Smithsonian
October 7, 2006
From journal A Week in Washington D.C.
April 6, 2006
From journal Sightseeing in Washington, DC
by scorn mediocrity
Houghton, New York
July 15, 2005
Of course, I visited the Hope Diamond, although I didn't try and push through the huge crowd to see it up close, but there's not a whole lot to study about a big blue rock. I went to see the dinos and the other big exhibits, but it felt to me that the majority of the museum was simply filler for a few popular items. Of course, there was quite a bit of construction going on, but most of the galleries were open. I guess everything really does seem a lot bigger when you're a kid. Perhaps I had simply visited too many other natural history museums with other approaches. At least I can say that I learned the average height of an Egyptian woman in 500 BC.
From journal Day Trip to D.C.
June 30, 2005
From journal An Eight-Day Vacation in Washington, D.C.
January 24, 2005
I started in the Gemstones exhibit, where natural and cut versions of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other crystals are on display. Most notably is the Hope Diamond, one of the most recognizable gems in the world and also one of the most precious. Harry Winston purchased it and several other jewels in this collection and donated it to the Smithsonian to start a National Gem Collection.
I also went to the new Orchid Express exhibit, which replaced the Baseball in America exhibit. While the orchids on display were stunning, I didn't understand the connection to the trains running through. There was also a lack of interpretation in my opinion, leaving the thousands of individual orchid types without explanation.
Two photographic exhibits caught my eye. One was the Nature's Best contest winners on the ground floor. The elevator operator told me to check out the owl on the end - the cutest thing you'd ever seen he said. These photos were submitted to the Nature's Best contest, the largest in North America. Or so a gentleman informed me as he passed by. Turns out that one of his photos was a winner! I guess he had come to see it on display with many others - his was of the polar bears. The second exhibit was of National Geographic Portraits. Some of the magazine's most notable portraits are on display in chronological order. The most haunting, in my opinion, is their most famous - of the young woman with the amber eyes (seen below in one of my pictures).
Best of all during my visit was the free film in the auditorium. "Pale Male" is the story of a red-tailed hawk who took up residence on a Fifth Avenue building in NYC. This documentary was fully entertaining - check the website to see if it or other free films are playing during your visit.
The remainder of the museum is full of dinosaur and mammal skeletons. Most are old and dated (some of the stuffed mammals were shot by Teddy Roosevelt) and are nothing your child hasn't seen at a zoo. Check out the Orkin Insect Zoo for up-close encounters with bugs and tarantulas.
The museum is, of course, free and on the Mall near the Archives/Navy Mem. metro. The food court is expensive but has good café fare. Expect $8 a meal at the food court.
From journal Crash Course in History in Washington DC
Charlotte, North Carolina
January 13, 2005
One of the first things you will see, in the center of the rotunda, is a very HUGE African elephant, displayed much like you would find in the wild. There you will find various presentations on elephants in the wild.
One of the most popular exhibits with both big and little kids is the dinosaur exhibit, also known as the Kenneth K. Berhring Family Hall of Mammals. This 25,000-square-foot exhibit displays over 274 mammals. You never get too big to be amazed by the bones of these once-magnificent creatures. Give yourselves plenty of time here; this exhibit takes up two floors, so there is plenty to see. And since it is one of the most popular exhibits, there are plenty of people to get in your way! You can take pictures, but for those who don’t want visitors in their pictures--it ain’t likely to happen!
Many people also head up to the second floor to see the geology, gems, and minerals room. When I was here, they had a diamond exhibit going on. You can even look into a crystal ball! Most visitors, though, come for one thing--the reported cursed hope diamond. This 45.52-carat diamond draws its share of "oohs" and "aahs". Quite frankly, I thought the thing was so huge, it looked fake and gaudy. But I myself am not much on diamonds (and you can bet my husband is very glad of that fact!).
There is also a beautiful display of our Native American cultures, complete with some very beautiful and intricately carved totem poles. My husband is part Native American, so this was his favorite. It was also a thrill for a little boy who was at the exhibit at the time to see "a real Indian"!
There are also exhibits on birds, meteorites, and Asian cultures. The little tykes will enjoy the insect zoo. There is also an IMAX theater on-site. If you want to see an IMAX film, make sure to pick your tickets up first (there is a charge for IMAX films) and then plan your visit around it. And finally, if you get hungry on your visit, make sure to stop on the lower level at one of the two restaurants for a quick bite.
From journal Summer fun in D.C.