The Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC is the largest museum and research complex in the world. It includes 19 museums, each with enough galleries and activities to be a whole-day activity, by themselves.
These museums are incredible imagination and creativity motivators! If a child’s mind is a sponge, then these locations will not only educate your family, but they will entertain them, as well. You will see actual aircraft, missiles, dinosaur skeletons, and prehistoric scale models.
Our family’s favorite Smithsonian museums are the Air & Space; Natural History; and American History. Below is a list of the museums, and what you can expect to see in each one:
Air and Space Museum:
With 23 galleries and actual models of airplanes, rockets, and missiles, this museum is a kid’s dream (especially for little boys). Highlights include the Wright Brother’s airplane (1903); The Spirit of St Lois; the Apollo 11 lunar landing module; SpaceShipOne; ballistic missiles; and part of the Hubble Telescope. The Udvar-Hazy building (off Mall) has some of the larger artifacts such as the SR-71 Blackbird and the Enola Gay (B-29 bomber that dropped bomb on Hiroshima & Nagasaki).
American History Museum:
This museum has so many displays of history from the forming of our nation to early pop culture items. The actual spar-spangled banner that inspired our National Anthem is on display, along with Wizard of Oz props, classic cars, early electronic devices, and other objects that tell a tale of our great history.
Natural History Museum:
This museum was a family favorite, from the grand Woolly Mammoth in the building’s grand entrance to the humongous dinosaur skeletons and whale model suspended from the ceiling! Learn about human origins, cultures around the world, and the diverse creatures that share our planet.
Smithsonian Institution Building (Castle):
This is a great place to start your Smithsonian Museum day; check out the scale model of Washington, DC; get maps to your museum destination; grab a bite to eat in their cafe; or use their public WiFi. It would also be a good idea to ask the staff your questions about what they would recommend to see and do, as they may offer good insider-info on peak times to avoid and any special exhibits to see.
More Smithsonian Museums….
African Art Museum: Art collections from the African continent. Includes the Walt Disney / Tishman Art Collection Exhibit.
African American History & Culture Museum: Expected completion in in 2015. This newest Smithsonian Museum is dedicated to preserving the culture, history, and art of this important part of our American society.
American Art Museum: Includes paintings, sculptures, and various artwork from the colonial period to today. There are over 3,300 pieces of art to explore.
American Indian Museum: A diverse collection of cultural artifacts and art from the North American Indian. Theater has an introductory film titled, Who We Are.
Anacostia Community Museum: Exhibits focus on the historical and contemporary social issues on an urban community.
Art & Industries Building: This was the home to the original Smithsonian Institution, and is now home to exhibits on arts and innovation (scheduled to re-open in 2014).
Freer Gallery of Art: Exhibits of Asian art
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: Modern art exhibits in a unique cylindrical building.
National Zoo: Home to over 4,000 animals, representing over 400 species of animals many of which are endangered.
National Portrait Museum: Portraits of Americans that have shaped our history from politicians to Hollywood actors.
Postal Museum: From the Pony Express to the modern mail sorting of today, see the hisotry of our mail carriers and gain a whole new respect for all that you get for a postage stamp.
Renwick Gallery: Exhibits include contemporary crafts and decorative arts from the 19th to 21st centuries.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: Asian art collection from ancient time to contemporary.
As you can see, the Smithsonian Museums have a wide variety of exhibits and displays and are sure to have something that will capture the interest of every person in your family. Most of the museums are right along The Mall – check out the Smithsonian Institution Map for exact locations.