Monday, April 20, 2009

Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History - Washington D.C.

Museums seem to be notoriously bad places to take photographs. They're dark and everything is enclosed in glass... both enemies of the camera. My last couple of posts have been photo heavy anyway.

I forgot how big the Museum of Natural History was, but it certainly can't be done thoroughly in one day. The only things I remembered were the Hope Diamond and the Western Culture displays. Those two things hadn't changed, but the display case for the diamond was different. Pipsqueak was underwhelmed by it. She thought it would be as big as a house. I guess 45 carats isn't big enough for her. I photographed it in black and white because of the blue cast that the display case had. We were both more interested in the raw minerals and gems on display and discussing how fooled we would be by the pyrite (fool's gold).

The Insect Zoo was new. I got a chuckle out of the fact that it's sponsored by Orkin. There were scorpions, tarantulas, cockroaches, stick bugs, millipedes, centipedes and enough other creepy crawlies to give you the heeby-jeebies for a few days. The Butterfly Pavilion was amazing with about a dozen different species of butterflies fluttering around and sometimes landing on visitors.
Dig It! The Secrets of Soil was a placard heavy display that Pipsqueak breezed right through until we got to the dirt samples from each of the United States and its territories. It was interesting to see how they are rocky, sandy or dense clay and all the shades of black, brown and red. Alabama had the reddest dirt of all.

Other highlights were: pieces of meteorites that have survived the fall to earth, pieces of lava, a giant squid that was caught off the coast of Spain, the salt water aquarium and skeletons of almost any mammal you can think of. We didn't get a thorough look at anything as Pipsqueak was so excited that all I heard all day was, "What's that? Oh. Come on. Let's see more."

The lunch at the Atrium Cafe was quite good. I recommend the soup... chicken noodle in particular.

We saw the Imax movie "Deep Sea 3D" which was fantastic. It seemed so real that I almost felt like I had to hold my breath under water. Sweetie and Pipsqueak modeled their 3D eye wear for me.
I had a couple of funny observations: Some people were trying to visit every exhibit, since I saw them referring to their guide book and stating what they still had left to see. Some shuffled through the exhibits staring blankly at everything and reading nothing like they were on a conveyor belt.

It was rainy and a great day to be shut in a museum. With showers forecast tomorrow, I think we be taking in the Museum of American History.

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