Did you ever hear that some famous celebrity jacket or historical artifact had been given to the Smithsonian? I knew it must be the country’s most prestigious museum. But I had no idea how expansive it was. I didn’t actually even know where it was. And maybe you don’t either. Consider this a brief overview of perhaps the best museum in the world. Of course, Ben Stiller was in a movie recently that provides a pretty decent overview as well. If you prefer your info with a hijinx-heavy, story-driven plot, try Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Otherwise, continue. Either way, I’ll think you be convinced the Smithsonian is, alone, a brilliant reason for Washington D.C. student tours.
The Smithsonian is located in Washington D.C.
What better place for a collection of our nation’s historical treasures than in its beautiful capital? The National Mall is a gorgeous expanse designed specifically to showcase monuments and memorials to our presidents, our founding fathers, and our prominent events. The Smithsonian is a group of museums that flank this beautiful expanse. A group, you say? Yep. The Smithsonian collection is so comprehensive it takes nineteen facilities to contain it. These facilities are amazing museums unto themselves, devoted to space exploration, art, history, popular culture, and more. Here’s a breakdown of The Smithsonian highlights.
Pictured here, the Castle is the visitor’s center for the Smithsonian, the place to begin. You can view a 10-minute video here to help you get oriented to the Smithsonian’s many facilities. You’ll also find interactive touch screens for more information. Here, though, are some of the favorite Smithsonian museums. You could spend hours in any of them, but you could definitely include several of these in a trip to the Capital.
Air and Space
One of the most fascinating, you’ll love this expansive, modern building displaying air and spacecraft from our history with the science of flight and exploration. It’s a basic human condition, the need to discover, and you’ll love how that desire is celebrated here and displayed in all its glory.
This is where you’ll find Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Abe Lincoln’s hat, Thomas Jefferson’s desk, and the original star-spangled banner. Pop culture and the treasures of our history abound in this museum devoted to the irrepressible American spirit.
It’s a beautiful thing to view history and the universe through the art of those who express it through creativity. Historical artifacts may give you an idea of what was, when it was, and what happened afterwards or before. The artwork of any given era, though, will tell you how it felt.
Few cultures express their history and their spirituality through so much of what they create. You’ll find beautiful art work as well as unique functional pieces in this museum celebrating the African culture from the past and still thriving today.
This green-domed museum celebrates the earth and amazing things about it you probably don’t even know. A visit here is like a great adventure. Discover everything from butterflies to soil to curiously-colored gemstones and tons of amazing treasure from right here on planet earth.
Beyond the museums you’ll find a unique Smithsonian facility in the National Zoo. Meet and discover animals from around the globe in this place devoted to research and the preservation of some of our neighbors in the animal kingdom.
This is just the beginning of the Smithsonian’s facilities, a few of the highlights. There are several more as well. Remember to stop by the castle, and through one museum or several, you must make the Smithsonian a part of your D.C. tour.
Photo by yeowatzup on Flickr.