History on Steroids


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Published: October 26th 2008
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This elephant is the largest land animal on display at any museum in the world. It stands in the entrance lobby to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
I wanted to take this opportunity to post some of my coolest photos from trips to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. There’s all kinds of great stuff here. In fact, the Smithsonian Institute has over 136 million objects on display, 125 million of which are in the Museum of Natural History. If you’re ever in DC, you should see at least one of the 19+ Smithsonians, especially the Natural History one, but if you can’t get there anytime soon, you can see some highlights here. These photos were taken during three trips to the two museums between 07 July and 23 October.

When it comes to the National Museum of Natural History, the Dinosaurs display is my favorite place, but we always spend the most time in the Geology, Gems and Minerals room, browsing asteroids, earth rocks, precious gems, and various strange and fascinating natural formations. There’s SO much to see, though, throughout the entire museum. Wandering though displays in the Western Cultures room is vastly amazing, so even though we’ve seen a lot of ancient culture stuff in the last few years, there’s still things here that are new
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The front of the Smithsonian museum.
to us, like Ötzi the Iceman, a display about Europe’s oldest natural mummy, buried in 3300 BC. And even a bull mummy. There are plenty of fossils in the Ice Age and Ancient Seas displays, like a Mastodon in the former and Trilobites in the latter, as well as taxidermy animals in the Mammal Hall, including a Rhino that Roosevelt shot and brought back to the States so the country could witness these exotic animals. There’s a new permanent display in the museum called Ocean Hall. There’s a great big Right Whale hung from the ceiling and a plethora of displays. One sight to see is a 24 foot giant squid that’s on display, but in a long case not conducive to photography, so no photos in the blog. Actually there’s quite a bit in the museums that you just really need to see in person to appreciate, especially in the Air and Space Museum because some of those airplanes and spacecraft just don’t translate their size well in photos.

The National Air and Space Museum is quite amazing, too. It’s hard to convey the span of the museum and it’s multitude of displays with my little camera, but
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Easter Island dude.
I’ve tried to photograph some of the coolest displays. It’s amazing how many historically important airplanes are in the museum, like the Spirit of St. Louis and the United State’s first ever military airplane which was constructed by the Wright Brothers. They’ve also got a huge number of spacecraft there from NASA. Well, Sputnik was there, too, but I honestly can’t remember if it was original or a replica. They have a real backup for the Hubble Telescope and a real Apollo Lunar Module.

It’s important to mention that all of the Smithsonians have FREE entrance. It costs nothing to see the museum, which is fabulous, but be prepared to spend a pretty penny at the food court. Also, both of the aforementioned museums have IMAX theater, which usually show some pretty great films.



Additional photos below
Photos: 36, Displayed: 24


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T-Rex. Grrr Baby!
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T-Rex again, 'cause he's cool. (The dinosaur room, by the way, is my favorite room in the museum, 'case you couldn't tell).
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That would be Mr. Triceratops.
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And Mr. Allosaurus.
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Ocean Hall. That would be a Right Whale hanging from the ceiling.
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Close up of the big guy.
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More bones. This would be a Giant Sloth. And me. Ice Age display.
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This Ice Age skeleton is an American Mastodon. They lived from Alaska down to Mexico.
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Irish Elk. Their antlers could reach 12 feet across and they lived in Ireland about 11,000 BC.
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We're in the Mammal Hall now.
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This is Günther’s dik-dik. I was on my way to retake this blurry photo, when I tripped on the nearby steps and took a nosedive onto the marble floor, jamming my kneecap and denting the camera. Yeah, it was all kinds of graceful.
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And here I though it was just hair and mammary glands that made us mammals, but it turns out you also need these special ear bones to qualify. Who knew? (Well, actually, my husband knew, but I didn't, so it warrants a place in the blog).
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Hope Diamond. It's behind glass so thick, we just couldn't get a good photo.
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And a few fun facts about the Hope Diamond.
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This is the mummy of a bull. No really, it is.
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The Egyptian display had a variety of mummies. There was a human mummy, and you already saw the bull mummy. Here is a cat mummy. In front of the big cat mummy is a smaller cat mummy on the right and a hawk mummy on the left.
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This asteroid has white specks of "compounds of calcium, aluminum, and silicon ... formed at very high temperatures." They "preserve the only physical record of the Solar System's first million years."
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This is an Acasta Gneiss from Canada. It is 3.96 billion years old and is the oldest Earth rock ever found.


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