There are Other Smithsonian Musems?
When visiting DC, many of us are familiar with the Air & Space, Natural History and American History Museums, but did you know that the Smithsonian Institute has almost 20 different museums and galleries to experience? This year, your school might want to consider a few other collections that the Smithsonian has to offer.
The National Portrait Gallery tells the stories of America through paintings and photos of the individuals who have shaped our nation, from pre-colonial times to today. The collection includes the likenesses of political leaders, actors, poets, activists, champions and underdogs; as well as the nation’s only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House. For anyone fascinated by famous Americans and their stories, the National Portrait Gallery is a must–visit destination. It is also home to the Kogod Courtyard, an elegant and breath-taking glass canopy enclosed courtyard named as one of seven architectural wonders by Conde Nast Traveler. The roof is a wavy glass–and–steel structure that appears to float over the courtyard, letting in natural light but protecting visitors from the elements.
The National Museum of the American Indian is home to one of the largest and most diverse collections of Native art and historical and cultural objects, including Geronimo’s rifle. The exhibitions are designed in collaboration with Native communities from across the hemisphere. In addition to the object collections, the museum also houses a phenomenal photographic and media archive with approximately 324,000 images from the 1860s to the present, which help to tell the important stories sometimes overlooked in our nation’s history. This Smithsonian Museum is also one of the most striking to look at from the outside. The detailed landscaping and sweeping curvilinear architecture evoke images of beautiful wind-sculpted rock formations.
The Smithsonian is constantly updating and adding to their museum collections and will soon complete its 19th museum, the much anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture. Until its official opening, visitors can see a bit of the collection on the second floor of the National Museum of American History.
No matter which Smithsonian you choose to visit, you’ll be guaranteed an interesting and informative experience for your students and chaperones – as there’s always something new to see! For more information about these and all of the other Smithsonian Museums, please visit their website at: http://www.si.edu/. As it says on their website, “Questions Come Alive at the Smithsonian!”