Archive for May, 2010

Smithsonian Summer Highlights

May 7, 2010

Visitors to Washington DC are often overwhelmed to discover that the Smithsonian is actually 19 museums and 9 research centers. The most common mistake visitors make is trying to do too much, becoming overwhelmed by how much there is to see and missing out on some of the highlights. Here are a few of our must-see in the permanent collection as well as some special exhibits this summer:

No trip to Washington is complete with a visit to the National Zoo to see the Pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.  New favorites for Washington are the Clouded Leopards on the Asia Trail.

The Air & Space Museum houses the original Wright Brothers plane, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, and a lunar rock sample. In addition the Lockheed Martin IMAX theater offers  movies including To Fly! And Hubble 3D.

The National Museum of American History is where you’ll find the First Ladies’ gowns, Julia Child’s kitchen, Kermit the Frog, Dorothy’s slippers from the Wizard of Oz, and Archie Bunker’s chair. You can even take part in a training session to join a sit in at a lunch counter during the Civil Rights movement.  This summer (through August 29) you can also see Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment which includes items from James Brown, Michael Jackson, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, LL Cool J and many more Apollo performers.

Everyone recognizes the Natural History Museum – “the one with the dinosaur out front” but there’s a lot more inside including the Hope Diamond and the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. This summer you can also see the Wittelsbach-Graff Dimaond for the first time in more than 50 years.

When you’re ready for a break, stop by the Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the National Museum of the American Indian and enjoy some of the best food options on the National Mall.  Be sure to check the schedule for the Indian Summer Showcase highlighting the music, art, culture, dance, film and food of Native groups from native communities in the US and Canada, including Hawaii as well as Argentine, Bolivia, Mexico and Peru.

If you can’t stand the idea of being inside on a beautiful day in Washington but still want to see some great art, take a walk through the Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden, open daily 7:30 am to dusk. If you’re near the Smithsonian Castle,  you can also visit the Enid A. Haupt Garden or the Folger Rose Garden.

If you’re bringing the family along, be sure to check out the Exhibitions for Children to see the kid-friendly exhibits and activities. Be sure to check at the Visitor’s Information desk – some museums have created scavenger hunts to help kids find the most interesting exhibits.

See a complete list of current Smithsonian exhibitions.


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