Sunday, November 21, 2010

Smithsonian Museums - Natural History

Every time I see dinosaur bones, I act like I'm 6 years old. This cannot be prevented.

National Museum of Natural History

When we first moved to DC, I felt the need to hit as many major attractions as soon as possible - in part because of excitement but also because I wanted to have firsthand knowledge of DC's biggest hits. So I should start this post by saying, I've been to the Natural History museum before (a couple of times), but I went back today. For the sake of completeness, I thought I would share a few pictures and anecdotes.
  • Natural History is huge. It would be easy to spend the entire day at this one museum alone, but you would probably end up tired, bored, and sick of all museums. Still though, it could be done.
  • Natural History is probably the best of the Smithsonians. Postal is my favorite, but I can recognize that Natural History is the best. There's a lot of must see stuff in there - the Hope Diamond, dinosaur bones, giant stuffed mammals.
  • I went for two specific things today. First, I wanted to check out the Hall of Human Origins which was not completed last time I was there. The exhibit is on the verge of information overload, but it was incredibly fascinating, with a great layout and design.
  • I also learned how much fun it can be to follow a group of four creationists (or at least hardcore skeptics) through an evolution exhibit. It reminded me of the evolution discussion in the movie "Country Boys," and if you haven't seen "Country Boys," what are you waiting for? That movie is awesome!
  • Second, I wanted to check out Bluebrain's Audio Companion to the Sant Ocean Hall. Bluebrain is a music duo from DC who created a 17 minute ambient noise piece written for the exhibit, similar to Brian Eno's work for airports. The experience probably isn't for everyone, but I found it to be very stimulating and relaxing. The interested reader should refer to this link for download information and more.

Imagine how awesome giant bones are when set to rhythmic, atonal soundscapes!

I always get excited when museums have stuff from close to home, like this fossil from St. Louis. There's an exhibit upstairs about mining in Southern Missouri, but I ran out of time today.

I really like the Hall of Mammals, but fewer people would be excited if it was called "Hall of Taxidermy."

You probably wondered what I would look like as a Homo Heidelbergensis. The answer is something like this.

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