The Natural History Museum is just one of a group of museums that belong to the Smithsonian collection. There are more than 125 million artifacts here. The total area of the museum is more than 18 football fields! When you first arrive, make sure to stop by the information desk and pick up a guide sheet. Unless you have most of a day to spend here, chances are you will not see everything. Make a note of what you want to see the most. Then come back again on another visit. You can also visit their website at www.smithsonian.org or www.mnh.si.edu to see what is going on during your visit and what is closed.
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.