Welcome to the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Castle

The Smithsonian Castle

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The Smithsonian Institution consists of nineteen museums/galleries, the National Zoo and a Sculpture Garden. Sixteen of the museums are located in Washington DC, eleven of those are on the National Mall. It’s impossible to see all of them within our two week time frame and be able to do anything else. Originally we’d chosen three of them to visit but that was whittled down to two when a museum docent informed us that the dinosaurs at the National Museum of Natural History were no longer on display. Seems the bones had collected several years worth of dust so the museum dismantled them and sent them out to be cleaned. A delicate process we were told and one that would take five years to complete. We were disappointed by this news, especially me since I had never seen them. (Don was here once before in his youth.)

Conestoga Wagon

Conestoga Wagon

Ford introduced the Mustang at the 1964 World's Fair.

Ford introduced the Mustang at the 1964 World’s Fair.

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY

“The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays the heritage of the United States in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history.”

Three stories high with sixteen different exhibits, we covered every last one of them. We recommend arriving early, plan to spend the entire day, plan to eat lunch here (good food but very pricey or step outside to one of several food trucks), and wear comfortable walking shoes.

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A McDonald’s food truck, first time we’ve seen on of these.

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Both of our mothers were big on this dinner fare when we were younger.

Both of our mothers were big on this dinner fare when we were younger.

Most of the first floor exhibits were just a quick walk through for us, with the exception of the Food Exhibition. This exhibit was based on the 1950’s to present day food processing technologies and how different cultures transformed the American diet. Two of the more popular displays in this exhibit appeared to be the wine making process and a replica of Julia Child’s kitchen.

 

Julia Child's kitchen

Julia Child’s kitchen

jckitchen

On the second floor we found the American Stories exhibit intriguing with artifacts form the 1600’s to present day. On this level is also the one exhibit that drew us to this museum, the Star Spangled Banner.  This exhibit displays the actual flag that flew over Fort McKinley during the Battle of Baltimore in 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the words to our national anthem.

This display reminded me of my childhood, especially the ones with the horizontal lines instead of an image. Where's the rabbit ears & tin foil when you need them?

This display reminded me of my childhood, especially the ones with the horizontal lines instead of an image. Where’s the rabbit ears & tin foil when you need them?

The Greensboro lunch counter at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Greensboro lunch counter at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement.

The actual gold nugget that sparked the California Gold Rush in 1848.

The actual gold nugget that sparked the California Gold Rush in 1848.

The first automobile to drive across the continent.

The first automobile to drive across the continent.

Fragment of Plymouth Rock said to be where the Pilgrims landed in 1620.

Fragment of Plymouth Rock
said to be where the Pilgrims landed in 1620.

Dorothy's Ruby Red Slippers from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.

Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves

Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves

I truly would have liked to take photos of the flag but no photography is allowed. Due to the fragility of the banner, a camera flash could cause damage to the flag’s fibers. With a daily average of 30,000 people viewing this historic artifact, you can well imagine the damage that could be done over time. The reason a no flash photograph isn’t permitted is because the museum doesn’t have enough security staff to monitor visitors, ensuring that everyone complies with the rules. I will tell you however that we were in awe. Our national symbol is beautifully displayed and the exhibit is impressive.

The Star Spangled Banner exhibit

The Star Spangled Banner exhibit

Stock photo as no photography allowed inside the exhibit.

Stock photo as no photography allowed inside the exhibit.

We found three of the four exhibits on the top floor enthralling. The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, the Gunboat Philadelphia and the American Presidency. The Price of Freedom tells the history of America’s military from the colonial era to the present. The American Presidency explores the personal and private lives of all forty-three of our Presidents and the Gunboat Philadelphia is the oldest surviving American fighting vessel. Built in 1776, it was sunk in Lake Champlain that very year in a battle against the British.

George Washington's regimental coat, waistcoat & breeches that he wore for commemorative portraits & special occasions.

George Washington’s regimental coat, waistcoat & breeches that he wore for commemorative portraits & special occasions.

General George Armstrong Custer's buckskin jacket & a gun that was found at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

General George Armstrong Custer’s buckskin jacket & a gun that was found at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Chairs & table used at Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox. Grant sat in the upholstered seat while Lee sat in the caned one.

Chairs & table used at Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox. Grant sat in the upholstered seat while Lee sat in the caned one.

A section (& fragments) of the Berlin Wall. Erected in 1961 & reopened in 1989.

A section (& fragments) of the Berlin Wall. Erected in 1961 & reopened in 1989.

The Continental Gunboat Philadelphia.

The Continental Gunboat Philadelphia.

Topside view.

Topside view.

The cannonball that sunk the Philadelphia in Lake Champlain was recovered along with the gunboat.

The cannonball that sunk the Philadelphia in Lake Champlain was recovered along with the gunboat.

1863/1864 Draft Wheel The Confederacy instituted the draft in April 1862; the Union followed in March 1863. It was hoped the draft would relieve manpower shortages & encourage voluntary enlistment.

1863/1864 Draft Wheel
The Confederacy instituted the draft in April 1862; the Union followed in March 1863. It was hoped the draft would relieve manpower shortages & encourage voluntary enlistment. They spun the wheel, pulled papers with the names of eligible men from the hole & wrote the names on a list of draftees to be called into service.

TAdA

George & Martha Washington portraits

Pres. Harry Truman's "little" White House apparel. He wore it while in Key West. Just goes to show you, even a President can have bad taste.

Pres. Harry Truman’s “little” White House apparel. He wore it while in Key West. Just goes to show you, even a President can have bad taste.

FDR

FDR used this mike during his fireside chats.

These are original casts of Lincoln's hands made 2 days after being nominated as the 1860 Republican presidential candidate. Lincoln's right hand was still swollen from shaking hands. To steady it, he held a piece of a broom handle, which is preserved in this cast.

These are original casts of Lincoln’s hands made 2 days after being nominated as the 1860 Republican presidential candidate. Lincoln’s right hand was still swollen from shaking hands. To steady it, he held a piece of a broom handle, which is preserved in this cast.

THE NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM

The National Air and Space Museum holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. Two stories high with over 160,000 square feet, your jaw will drop at the sight of some of the items on display here. Our favorites being the Apollo 11 Lunar Module and the 1903  Wright Brothers Flyer. We also enjoyed exploring the WWII Aviation, the Sea-Air Operations, the Apollo to the Moon exhibits and the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

In the air……………

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1906 Curtiss Motorcycle

1906 Curtiss Motorcycle

Glider

1894 Lilienthal Hang Glider

North American P-51D Mustang, many considered it to be the best fighting machine of WWII.

North American P-51D Mustang, many considered it to be the best fighting machine of WWII.

A Japanese warplane used in the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.

A Japanese warplane used in the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.

Amelia Earhart's flight coat & goggles, sans lenses.

Amelia Earhart’s flight coat & goggles, sans lenses.

Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. It made the first nonstop solo Transatlantic flight.

Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. It made the first nonstop solo Transatlantic flight.

Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall

Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall

In Space………………

Apollo Command Module. These modules were much smaller than we imagined. We can not believe it held 3 grown men.

Apollo Command Module. These modules were much smaller than we imagined. We can not believe it held 3 grown men.

Hubble lens

Hubble Space Telescope mirror

Apollo Lunar Suit, you can still see the moon dust on it.

Apollo Lunar Suit, you can still see the moon dust on it.

A sample piece of moon rock brought back from from Apollo 17's 1972 landing. Available for the public to touch. It felt very smooth and reminded me of thin metal sheeting.

A sample piece of moon rock brought back from from Apollo 17’s 1972 landing. Available for the public to touch. It felt very smooth and reminded me of thin metal sheeting.

 Mars Viking Lander

Mars Viking Lander

Our favorites……………….

1903 Wright Flyer It made 4 flights at Kitty Hawk, NC on Dec. 17, 1903. The best covering 852' in 59 seconds.

1903 Wright Flyer
It made 4 flights at Kitty Hawk, NC on Dec. 17, 1903. The best covering 852′ in 59 seconds.

Many reproductions have been produced for display however, this one is the actual airplane built & flown by the Wright Bros.

Many reproductions have been produced for display however, this one is the actual airplane built & flown by the Wright Bros.

Apollo 11 Moon Lander

Apollo 11 Moon Lander

Apollo 11

Apollo 11

We also made an unplanned visit to the the Sculpture Garden in lieu of visiting the National Archives. It was our desire to see the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights on public display in the archive building but the line was down to the street when we approached and we just didn’t have it in us to stand in line for a lengthy wait. Not a fan of modern art, we did see a few whimsical sculptures that we liked.

 

An artist's take on Rodin's The Thinker.

An artist’s take on Rodin’s The Thinker.

Graft, a work in metal sculpture

Graft, a work in metal sculpture

And our favorite………………

Typewriter Eraser

Typewriter Eraser

Thanks for stopping by. We hope you liked your visit to The Smithsonian with us.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…………………………..

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Welcome to the Smithsonian

  1. The first few days after we arrived, I thought, let’s get this over with. Too many people, too much traffic, and using the Metro scared the heck out of me; now I think I’d like to return (in 5 yrs.), just to see those clean dinosaur bones.

  2. I loved it! Brought back lots of fond memories from our time there!
    That’s so interesting about the dinosaur bones…5 years!
    I agree…the typewriter eraser is cool!

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