Results 1-10of 16 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.
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.
July 31, 2004
It might seem odd that a company dedicated to exterminating insects does so much to help us understand them, but as the displays point out, the overwhelming majority of insects are innocuous or even beneficial. By viewing diverse habitats and live exhibits, visitors get a sense of the astonishing diversity of insect life. If some estimates are true, then there may be as many as 29 million undiscovered species of insects. They’re the most dominant life-forms on Earth, yet we know comparatively little about them. This is what excites me about insects: they represent the unknown and yet they’re omnipresent.
The Insect Zoo provides an opportunity to watch Smithsonian entomologists at work in a large glassed-in area where they raise and study insects. They’re hard at work behind the partition, but they periodically bring insects out to ‘interact’ with the public.
On one visit, a grandmotherly-looking woman was passing around Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Although cockroaches inspire only disgust in most people, soon she had a gaggle of fascinated kids (and a few stalwart adults) clustered around her taking turns gently holding the sleek 4-inch-long insects. When my turn came, I was surprised to feel how warm the cockroach was. I’d expected it to be cold and clammy.
"It’s warmer than me!" I exclaimed.
On another visit, silkworms and their cocoons were on display. I picked up a cocoon, marveling at its soft density. I learned a lot about silkworms that day talking with the curator with his box full of fat, mulberry-leaf-munching silkworms.
My personal favorites, though, are the jewel-like beetles. Though not alive, they are among the most vibrant things in the exhibit, with shimmering iridescent colors matched only by ‘blue morpho’ butterflies. Coleoptera (beetles) are by far my favorite order of insects.
The Insect Zoo can be crowded, especially in the afternoon, so come early or be resigned to moving at stroller gridlock pace. I always round out my visit with a look at ancient arthropods downstairs in the fossil displays -- reminders that while humans have been around some 100,000 years, insects, in their myriad forms, have existed for over 350,000,000 years.
Insider Tip: If looking at all the creepy-crawlies hasn’t made you lose your appetite, the Fossil Café, located behind the dinosaur and ancient sea life exhibits, is a relatively quiet corner of the museum. There you’ll find toothsome desserts as well as a range of snacks, coffees, teas, and juices.
From journal Entomological Excursions