Let me talk about how wonderful the Smithsonian is. It’s the worlds biggest collection of museum and research facilities provided by the Government of the United States. Founded in 1846 and backed financially by Englishman James Smithson, the institution continues today to share an astounding array of resources – so we headed round some of them! And I should mention that as part of the institution they are all completely free to visit…
National Portrait Gallery
We headed to the National Portrait Gallery, namely to see America’s only complete collection of presidential portraits (outside the White House). It was, for me, my first time seeing America’s Presidents in all their glory hanging from the walls of the gallery, and Riley’s (rather impressive fifth time). I was rather fortunate in that case, to get a private tour from the boyfriend who is somewhat an expert when it comes to the US presidents (or anything historical for that matter). It was also a pleasure to see Obama’s eye catching portrait finally hanging in the gallery.
If you’re heading there, the museum opens at 11:30am daily and closes at 7pm. I cannot however guarantee the use of the awesome and informative guide I had on my visit.
Air and Space Museum
One afternoon, we threw on our matching NASA t-shirts like the couple of nerds we are, and blasted round the Air and Space Museum. Riley especially, is a massive fan of all things space related so his enthusiasm was infectious and I learned so much as a result on our visit. The museum has an array of exhibitions, from lunar exploration vehicles to their “learn how to fly” interactive room. We spent more time exploring the space section than the other aviation exhibits as this was of greater interest to us but the whole museum is fantastically informative.
They even have Apollo 11’s Command Module, that carried Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon and back in 1969 on the first lunar landing mission, and a piece of the moon brought back from the last Apollo lunar mission in 1972. Probably one of the coolest souvenirs brought back from anywhere to be honest. Oh and you can touch it yourself if seeing it wasn’t cool enough. The museum opens 10am and closes at 5:30pm.
Natural History Museum
Home to the largest natural history collection in the world, this museum opens from 10am to 5:30pm daily (open until 7:30 some evenings). It’s Hall of Mammals contains about 274 specimens, that fill the room with such a presence, even as an adult it’s hard not to be in awe.
They also have an insect zoo, a Hall of Human Origins, Ocean Hall and fossil lab. We were fortunate enough to be able to catch the 22nd Annual Nature’s Best Photography Windland International Awards display that runs until September 2018. It contains the 2017 Windland category winners along with a selection of Highly Honoured photographs from the NBP Awards competitions. The photographs were utterly breathtaking and well worth a trip to the museum to see before its taken down.
American Art Museum
This opens from 11:30am to 7pm daily and boasts the nation’s first collection of American Art. Whether art is your cup of tea or not, the museum displays everything from photography to impressionist paintings, and is delightful to wander round. My favourite piece by far, was Albert Bierstadt’s “Among the Sierra Nevada, California.” It’s a captivating piece, be sure to check it out in person if you go!
The zoos opening times are from 9am to 6pm from March until September and they close an hour earlier at 5pm from October through March again. The zoo was one of my favourite days out so I thought it deserved it’s own post – you can check it out here!