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front of the museum
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

1300 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560
Open 10:00-5:30 all year except Christmas Day. Open till 7:30pm on some holidays.
202-633-1000 1 day
June 2013 All year
$0-9 Washington, DC District of Columbia
Website Educational General Museums
First review
The National Museum of Natural History is a Smithsonian museum that focuses on human and animal life as well as gems and minerals. There are also several cultural exhibits and rotating temporary exhibits such as on forensic research and nature photography. Some of the insect and sea life exhibits have live specimens. The museum is enormous with approximately 300,000 square feet of exhibition space. There are over 100 million items in the collection, including a huge number of insects. It is free, extremely popular and very busy on weekends and holidays.

The museum was established in 1846 and was originally located in the historic Smithsonian Castle. It moved to its current location in 1910. Major contributions to the collection, especially the gem and minerals collection have taken place over the years. There also have been several building and exhibit modernizations.

You can BlitzQuest this museum in a day, but it will be a long day and there will not be enough time to see everything well. The most interesting exhibits were those on early man, dinosaurs and paleontology, ocean life and exploration, African wildlife, and insect life. The gem and mineral collection is also a must see because the exhibits are so varied and beautiful, but this collection was not very interesting from an informational perspective.

Spending a day here was enriching and memorable. The Natural History Museum stands out in diversity of content, especially gems and minerals. While it is not as physically large as some other natural history museums such as in Houston, as a free museum it offers a compelling value proposition for the information provided. The Smithsonian name is often held out as the standard of excellence by which other museums are judged. If exceptional, a museum is considered to be as good as a Smithsonian. While packed with visitors, this museum delivered on its mission to increase the diffusion of knowledge and was definitely as a good as a Smithsonian.
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