In Love with Museums: The Smithsonian

The Smithsonian of Washington, D.C.

This is the original building known as the Smithsonian Castle.

This is the original building known as the Smithsonian Castle.

This is the second of several posts I’ll be writing about the museums in my life. If you’ve read much of my blog, you already know how much I love history. I think it is very important to tell our children about the past and museums  provide an excellent passport into those years long ago.By age ten, I was well acquainted with what all I could learn from museums, art galleries and libraries. My “adopted” grandparents convinced my parents that my education was not complete until I had been to Washington, D.C.  They especially wanted me to visit the Smithsonian Museum.I could hardly contain my excitement and immediately started researching the city in our set of encyclopedias! Remember those?! And then I spent Saturdays in the library reading and pouring over pictures of our nation’s Capitol.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when we arrived at the Museum….not one building…but over a dozen! Now, in 2013, there are a total of 19 different museums in the entire complex. Three are in New York City. At this point in the post, I am going to suggest you visit the Smithsonian’s website in order to see the expanse of the largest museum in the world!!

I was able to choose two buildings during our trip in 1959. Of course, you know  I wanted to see the National Museum of American History!  It was here I first was introduced to the beautiful collection of inaugural ball gowns belonging to our country’s First Ladies.  I had never worn a long fancy dress and no one rushed me as a studied the laces, ruffles and buttons. I tried to memorize the colors and styles. I tried to sketch them to make my own set of paper dolls. I remember people going around me and commenting about the little girl’s sketches…but I was lost in another world and my imagination was taking me back in history.

Once again no one hurried me along as I gazed into the largest dollhouse I had ever seen. My fingers itched to play with the tiny items in over 20 rooms. Funny what a childhood memory can do! We visited Washington, D.C. a few years ago and that dollhouse was on the top of my list of things to see once again. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so much smaller! In fact, I asked a curator if this was a different house! I stood back and tried to picture that ten year old girl peering into each room. Sweet memories!

Here I saw President Lincoln’s top hat and our first American flag. There are 3.2 million items in this museum!! I’ll let you take a look! Enjoy a virtual tour at  http://smithsonianlegacies.si.edu/index.htm

I was mesmerized in God’s creation as I visited the Museum of Natural History. What picture could have prepared me for the size of the skeletons in the Hall of Dinosaurs? I stood in the entry rotunda and gazed up at the new display of the Fénykövi elephant, “the largest land mammal in the world on display at the time of its unveiling in 1959.” No photo could have shown me the sparkle of the jewels, including the Hope diamond in the Gem and Mineral Exhibit.

In this museum there are over 126 million objects…not all on display!! Here is another virtual  tour you won’t want to miss: http://www.mnh.si.edu/vtp/2-mobile/001.html

By the way, if you are planning a trip to Washington, D.C., keep in mind that all of these museums are free…that’s right…no admission!! There is some talk in Congress to begin charging an admission fee. To see all the Smithsonian museums, go to the main website at http://www.si.edu/Museums/

Link to photograph: http://www.usastudenttravel.com/washington-dc-tours/smithsonian-museums.html

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