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.
October 7, 2006
From journal A Week in Washington 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
October 29, 2003
From journal Baltimore and Washington DC
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
October 8, 2006
From journal Washington -- Smithsonian
, Virginia, Turkey
March 31, 2004
We started our tour at the newly opened Kenneth E. Benning Family Hall of Mammals. This exhibit was very cool as there were many different species on exhibit (most of them were stuffed, but that is another topic). My favorites were the cats as I am a cat lover. A leopard that carried an impala to a tree to eat, a tiger at attacking position, a mountain lion standing up on its two feets to catch prey... There was a short film on mammals and how the mammals evolved and how we benefited from the extinction of the dinosaurs.
After the Hall of Mammals we went to the second floor and visited the exhibit on South America. This exhibit was not as crowded as the other exhibits and the artifacts were interesting and the setting informed us of what were some of the important civilizations in South America, and how the indigenous people live.
Next to this exhibit was the exhibit on Geology, Gems, and Minerals. This was one of my favorite exhibits. All the colorful mineral, crystals and gems took me to a fairy land. I would never have guessed that there were so many brilliantly colored minerals in this planet of ours. There were even metals from space (samples from moon and the meteorites). Although there were lots of information on meteorites, all that information was over my head. I simply admired the different geometric shapes they all had when cut in the middle.
And finally we saw the Hope Diamond. Now I am changing the name of Hope Diamond to the "Diamond of Abdulhamit the Second," one of the last emperors of the Ottoman Empire as he had this diamond on his belt. In 1911 it was sold in auction. I was jealous that this big, blue perfect diamond did not belong to the Topkapi Museum. It would look so nice next to the Kasikci Diamond. Well, I guess we can't always have what we want.
We ended our visit at the Ancient Seas, which hosted giant fossilized squids, and the Dinosaurs. My husband was especially interested in the T-Rex and other dinosaurs. As I wasn't raised with the names of the dinosaurs seeing the fossils of this giant animals did not thrill me as a 4 year old who could count all 40 names for them. The IMAX film on T-Rex informed me a little bit...but I guess I am too old...I've already forgotten the names.
The IMAX film is titled "T-REX: Back to the Cretaceous" and it is in 3D (3 dimension). I guess I don't have to tell you that my husband loved the film...
From journal Spring in Washington DC
July 29, 2002
Tucked off in a small corner of the immense Smithsonian National Museum of American History is a quiet, dimly lit room. Few of the thousands of visitors streaming through the museum daily pause to consider the exhibit within, "An Odyssey in Print: Adventures in the Smithsonian Library." Most are too intent in their search for Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves or Dorothy's ruby slippers to give the small exhibit a second glance. Alas, they're missing perhaps their sole opportunity to glimpse what lies at heart of this vast institution: the Smithsonian's twenty-two research libraries.
The Smithsonian is sometimes fondly referred to as "America's Attic," with over 142 million objects in its collection. While only (only?) 1.5 million of these objects are books, the libraries' holdings are equalled in their breadth and depth by their historical importance. The collections are particularly well-developed in the traditional strengths of the Smithsonian: natural history, the history of science and technology, anthropology, art, and decorative arts. Nothing is added to the collection without carefully considering its merits.
While physical access to the various Smithsonian libraries is restricted to museum staff and pre-approved researchers, a great deal of the collection is available through an ambitious online library. Still, the uncredentialed bibliophile longs to cast eyes on the real books, not content with those pale imitations rendered in pixels. Happily, the Smithsonian showcases some of the libraries' gems, displaying them in rotation in a small exhibit space just outside the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology.
The "Odyssey in Print" exhibit takes as its theme the journey all scientists, inventors, and artists undertake as they embark on personal odysseys of discovery. Arrayed throughout the room are glass cases containing books, manuscripts, and ephemera divided into three broad themes: Journeys over Land and Sea, Journeys of the Mind, and Journeys of the Imagination. Felicitous juxtapositions abound in the display. A spaceman aiming a ray-gun at insect-like space aliens in a Buck Rogers in the 25th Century pop-up book from the 1930's lies beside a copy of First on the Moon signed by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Pasteur's microsope and a first edition of Darwin's On the Origin of the Species keep company. Ptolemy, the Wright Brothers, Jules Verne, Linnaeus, Kepler, Newton, Goddard, Lindhberg… whispers from such illustrious mental voyagers seem to float through the room, as if escaping their glass sarcophagi to mingle in a gentle susurration of thought.
The "Odyssey" exhibit runs through December 2003 and consists of a rotating "three-part expedition." The items currently on display illustrate how the world has been imagined and perceived as Europeans and Americans pushed the boundaries of what is imagined into the realm of what is known, producing books that shook the foundations of science and launched humankind on trajectories of wonder.
From journal Paper Chase