National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian Institution is the largest museum complex in the world with research facilities in the United States and abroad. This is The Castle, the Smithsonian's original home. It's a very good place to start out your visit before going to see some of the 16 Smithsonian museums. There's a short introductory movie from Ben Stiller and you get lots of information here about the museums. What's wonderful is that all the museums are free. Be prepared to have your bags scanned and walk through metal detectors before entering most of the museums. Most of the museums are right around the mall making it convenient to get from one to another, but they're all so fascinating that it's impossible to just stay for a short amount of time.
Here's the Natural History Museum right across from the Castle. If you only have time to go to a few museums, this is one of the ones I would suggest that you go to.
I felt like I transported back in time to my childhood when I came into the Natural History Museum. I felt like my 7 year old self again being here - filled with wonder and curiosity while seeing all the animals and dinosaur fossils. I guess I thought I had outgrown my love for all of that, but being in here reminded that I still am fascinated by it all.

The animals are broken up into different geographic regions. Such as Australia.
Hey, I saw you guys in the outback!
You too!
Now we've moved onto the jungle. Just look at the muscles in that jaguar.

They put some of the cooler animals up higher, but I wish they were lower so I could see them better. I think wolves are still my favorite animal.
Wow, that's a big whale.
After the animals go look at all of the beautiful rocks, gems, stones and minerals. I thought of Grandpa the entire time I was in this section because I knew how much he would love it.
What stunning and beautiful pieces of jewelry.
This is interesting to see the difference between a cut and uncut diamond.
I wonder if they ever loan out the jewelry for rich people to wear on special occasions.

And of course what everyone comes to see - the Hope Diamond. It has quite a long and interesting history, but is said to be cursed. However, the Smithsonian said that it's only been good luck for them - since they've aquired it many other significant donations have been made to the museum.

The Hope Diamond is in a temporary setting so that it looks like it's part of a necklace. The diamond is beautiful, but to be honest, it's not quite as amazing as I had expected it to be. I know much of it's fame comes from the rarity of it, the size, the stories of previous owners etc., but just from simply looking at it you wouldn't realize just quite how special it is.

I love how brightly colored all of these others rocks and stones are, they're beautiful!

A magnetic rock!
Don't forget about the fossils found in this museum.
They show researchers in rooms working on the fossils.
Stegosaurus. I still remember the names of a lot of the dinosaurs from back when I used to be obsessed with them.
The infamous T-Rex.
They also had a whole section on how humans have evolved over time. It was very much all about how we came from monkeys and all that which I thought was a little too much since they said it like it was 100 percent a fact when it's not, but whatever. They do have lots of skeletons and skulls to see which is kinda cool and kinda creepy at the same time.

I like this picture representing the different seasons.
There's the Natural History Museum. If you are at all interested in animals, dinosaurs or gems you'll really like this place.

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