If you’ve been following our journey through D.C. so far we’ve checked out a lot of great stuff, but I am extra excited to talk about the Smithsonian. If you haven’t seen what built up to this, please check out parts one and two. (Washington D.C. Part Two)
THE SMITHSONIAN MUSEUMS
The Smithsonian Museums are the Crown Jewels of Washington D.C. They have everything and they are free! (Did I mention that already? Because they’re free!)
Love art or have an art lover in the family? (These are my wife and daughter’s favorites.) There are a number of smaller art museums that are a part of the Smithsonian, including the Renwick Gallery, which is contemporary American art, the Museum of Asian Art and the Museum of African Art, which both have incredible contemporary and ancient art up to six thousand years old from cultures across the planet. But the final boss of art museums is the National Gallery of Art. It’s enormous, with two wings and and a sculpture garden, the museum contains works by Monet, Rembrandt, Calder, and DaVinci himself! It’s a fascinating and wonderful place, even for an art ignoramus like myself. (I personally lean to the artistic stylings of Jack Kirby and Hanna-Barbera.)
Perhaps there’s some science lovers in your troop? (This would be my son.) Washington D.C. has that covered too. First is the Air and Space Museum. It’s an absolutely fantastic look at the history of air travel from the Wright Brothers to the Space Race to the future. Who hasn’t dreamed of being that astronaut on the mission to Mars? (Although now they’re saying it’s a one way trip and I’m guessing there aren’t good burgers there, so I’m out.) We love this place and go on every trip. Also, lest I forget, there is an original filming model of the USS Enterprise there and seeing it fills my heart with glee. (It’s like real life tribbles.) Second is the Natural History Museum. Fossils, environmental exhibits, tectonic plates, and so much more. I loved that place as a child, and I still love it, especially after seeing it through the eyes of my kids. It really reminds you of the glory of creation.
Maybe you’re not an artist or a scientist, maybe you’re a history and social sciences kind of person, (That’d be me.) well The Smithsonian has that in spades. You’ve got the National Museum of African American History and Culture which is one of the newest additions to the Smithsonian collection. It’s a great display of the impact and importance of African American contributions to American society and history, and it’s a great learning place for adults and kids of all ages. There is also the National Museum of the American Indian. The American Indian Museum highlights the history and culture of our native peoples, an area of knowledge that many of us are probably very short on. Also, for my two cents, the design and layout of the American Indian Museum is top notch, with a great way of grouping together subject by topic and importance within the various Native American cultures, and has tons of hands on activities for kids. And, of course, we cannot forget the National Museum of American History. Covering nearly every area of American life from pre-colombian times, through the colonies, to the present. If you love learning about American History this is the place for you. My wife and kids are loving and kind, but they hate going to this museum with me because I will spend a whole day, just reading every sign, looking at every item, and drooling over ancient memorabilia. If you love history, then it doesn’t get much better than the American History Museum!
Sadly we wrap up our time in D.C. in the next part, but fear not, it’s a good one as we’ll talk about some of the more specialized museums that you can check out. (Washington D.C. Part Four)