Monday, June 16, 2014

Natural History Museum

Now that weekends are the only times I can visit museum, and with summer approaching, I have to get used to crowded museums. The Natural History museum greeted me with a big elephant in the middle, and the halls were filled with furry animal specimen, animals without fur as bone specimen, mummies, shiny rocks, and live butterflies.


Live insects

That's me out a a Bollywood special exhibition

Walking into the Natural History Museum, I noticed that this is also the Museum of the Man. Once inside, I felt the Natural History museum is much more popular than the Man part of it. None the less, starting with the Natural History Museum, there's the mammal exhibit filled with animals.  I like how the museum has made an effort to keep young visitor engaged with child height exhibitions such as peak holes and flip cards. For the adults and children alike, you can look at all these animals and be reminded how big a gazelle or an okapi deer is. You see these animals roaming the African plains all the time on Discovery Channel, but seeing it up close, woa, they are big.


Very lively these specimen are

The not so fun exhibit about animals is the hall with animal bones. They really aren't that fun to look at when their fur and flesh are taken away. You can also feel this exhibit is older and has not been renovated like the other exhibitions, it's just plain glass cases and cards with explanations. Unlike the newer exhibitions with interactive features, cool lightening and other decorative/interactive elements.

So this is what the inside of my turtle would look like

The exhibit that I spent the longest time in is the one about gems and crystals and other shiny rocks. There were so many things to look at and everything was beautiful! The colors, textures, patterns of these rocks kept many of the visitor engaged, adults and children alike. I'm sure we were all amazed by the variety of pretty things Earth could create, other then say rubies or emeralds that we already know about.  Each window held the shiny rocks in its natural form, processed form, and also in its jewelry form.

Colors of the rainbow as demonstrated with minerals, beautiful!

However, none of the rocks had as much admirers as the Hope Diamond. This big, blue diamond has traveled all over the place and owned by numerous people, and has interesting stories with it that some would say it is "cursed." Smithsonian does not mention anything about the diamond being cursed, though it is mentioned in Wikipedia. From what I have read, there wasn't anything too dramatic about the ownership of the diamond, it just constantly goes missing and reappearing and always being sold from one person to another and people die sometimes, until it finally makes it to the museum and has been very peaceful there ever since.

Th famous hope diamond , too much people squeezing around so I couldn't get a good picture.

Speaking of the gym and shiny rock exhibition, the gift shop that goes with this exhibition is my favorite, and I spent quite some time in there. The items that caught my eye were the shiny rocks that you could buy. Most of them were not expensive and for 5 USD you can own a piece of small shiny rock to play with. Some were more expensive and were 20 USD. I really wanted to buy these agate bookends I saw, they were 50 USD, which I thought was reasonable. I stood and thought for a while, but in the end, they are really heavy and would be a pain to bring back home, but someday, I will get some agate bookends. I've snapped some pictures of my favorite items in the shop.

Why not buy this strange looking shiny rock?

These agate bookends are amazingly beautiful

When I was in elementary school my science teacher had a set and I thought it was so cool and I wanted it so bad (and still do)

Mmmm, amber inspired candy with edible bugs. Those are real insects if you're wondering. Quite creative.

So far all the animals I have talked about are dead, but there are living animals in the museum as well! At the insect zoo you can see some live bugs, and for 6USD you can buy a ticket to the butterfly garden filled with live butterflies. The garden isn't that big, but it's got a lot of butterflies to look at. Kids were super excited in that humid and hot enclosing as they tried to have butterflies land on their hands, and would call out "Mooommmm I have one!" I personally think 6 USD is a little bit pricey for how small the butterfly garden is, but if you like butterflies or if you have kids, they will love it. Also, since the Smithsonian museums are free, I thought I'd support the museum by spending 6USD to see butterflies.

The outside of the butterfly garden.

The inside is not very big.

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