Smithsonian Institution: Museum of Natural History

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by grannola on October 8, 2006

The highlight was the Hope Diamond for the 8-year-old. The 4-year-old liked touching a piece of Mars. The baby liked any time we would let him touch anything.

We looked up the Natural History museum on the Smithsonian website before we left home. The 8-year-old was really looking forward to seeing the Hope Diamond. He was not disappointed. He had to wait until we made it to the right room, and then we had to get past a crowd to get a glimpse. We did not stay long enough for him to read up on it, but we did that a bit at home anyway.

The 4-year-old was a bit scared of the dinosaur exhibit on the main floor, but she doesn't do well with costumes either. She loved getting to touch buttons, and especially loved getting to touch a piece of Mars.

At one point Mom took the two big kids to see some exhibits while I looked after trying to get the baby to have a nap. As soon as we split up, the 4-year-old needed a potty break. It took a lot of looking to meet up again. Finally, we saw each other; but I was on the second floor and they were on the main floor in the rotunda. I told them to stay put (using gestures) and that I would find them. That was easier gestured than done. Because I had the baby with me, I also had the stroller so we needed to find an elevator. It took a lot of wandering about to find the elevator, then even more to find the rotunda from the elevator. Oh well.

There was a temporary exhibit on the Ice Age when we were there, which was kind of interesting, but the video was out of order. This gave me a nice quiet place to sit with the baby for a little while. This was really important, since the rotunda area on both floors is really noisy.

I really liked the exhibit where you could look out the window and see the other museums and landmarks and see what materials they were built with. They also had a really neat replica of the top pyramid from the Washington Memorial. The top bit is actually tiny, only a few inches high.

They have several different gift shops with different themes. Near the mammals exhibit there is an animal themed shop. On the second floor near the gems there is a rock shop. There are also a couple of cafes, one near the dinosaurs and a larger one near the elevator that goes up to the IMAX theatre.

The museum was open until 7pm, but we left around 5 to go in search of dinner. We did spend at least 3 hours in the museum, and did not see everything by any means, but we got to see some cool stuff and learn a few things along the way.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
10th Street & Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC
(202) 633-1000

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