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“Worth it for the Hall of Mammals alone!”

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Morning Monuments Tour of Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Established in 1910 and located on the National Mall, this prestigious museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution, holds the world's most extensive collection of natural history specimens and human artifacts including the remains of dinosaurs and tools used by early man.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Reviewed March 18, 2009

This Museum delivers all the you would expect from a Natural History Museum - gemstones, dinosaurs, a whole lot of knowledge. The Hall of Mammals has been recently rennovated, and the mounts are STUNNINGLY realistic. I would visit just for this Hall alone. Children may not find this museum very engaging, and may appreciate a trip to the nearby National Zoo more.

4  Thank gingingray
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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8,893 - 8,897 of 10,659 reviews

Reviewed January 5, 2009

We encountered an overwhelming variety of reptiles, birds, fish, and mammals on display at the Natural History Museum, including a full-size Right Whale suspended from the ceiling and a complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. We were surprised by the deep blue color of the world’s largest diamond, the Hope Diamond, and the incredible gems and semi-precious stones on display.

2  Thank phc91
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 16, 2008

The dinosaurs are a classic and the newly renovated Ocean Hall is fresh. The mammal hall is good as well, but very loud in the Africa section, catch a rainstorm in the hall every hour on the hour. Insect hall is well worth it to see the creepy crawleys but at $6 per adult to get into the 10 yard long butterfly exhibit, we passed. The newer insect hall dumps you out into the tragically aged reptile exhibit, which kind of serves as the story of the museum.

Certainly worth a visit, but pass through the old exhbits and stick to the newer, fresher ones. The gem hall didnt interest us, but to those who are interested I imagine it is quite the exhibit.

1  Thank TUOwls2004
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2008

I think this one of the favorite stops on our recent trip to DC. It was a bit crowded; however, once you proceed past the entrance it wasn't too bad as there are so many areas of the museum to duck into. Marveling at the gem displays could take hours. The Hope Diamond display was one of the most crowded areas of the whole thing. The dinosaur exhibits were also neat to look at.

Thank lewis01utk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 27, 2008

I've been coming to this museum since 1958. As a child everything was great.

However, keep in mind this building was built in 1913. I'm sure they had no idea that millions of people would be visiting DC on a yearly basis so the halls are a little cramped.

I learned to arrive by 9:30 AM and park right on the mall. Parking begins at 10 AM so you sit in your car.

Bring lunch if you can! The food in the court is very expensive! It's good food but I purchased one drink, one order of fries with chicken tenders, beef with potatoes and macaroni and the bill was $25!! That was for me and my 5 year old son. I observed other people with 2-3-4 children with plates piled high with food and, you guessed it, the kids picked and 75% of the uneaten food was tossed. Yes, yes, I know it isn't always practical to bring lunch but if you can do it! Bottledwater was $2.50. Conceivably, a family of four or five (there were lots of them there) could spend well over a hundred $$$ for lunch.

I stupidly left lunch home so we had to eat there.

Yea, it's a natural museum history so why are there exhibits on Sikhs and Africans?? I've been there 3 times in the past 2 years and those halls are the least attended.

I never, ever go during peak visiting hours, Summer weekends or holidays, both times I got sick and one of kids got sick. When you are one of about 2,000 or more people in a confined space you will pick up some germs.

The hall of mammals was puzzling. They have this great stuffed tiger leaping out of some bushes. Really neat looking. Where is it? Well, it's way up high above the entrance to the hall. If you don't look up you'll miss it. If you look up quickly you may snap your neck. Why put animals way high up in the hall?? Lack of space and too many animals to put on display I guess.

The staff were very nice. Everytime I stopped a staff person to ask a question they were polite and nice. No skanky atititudes at this place.

The Ocean exhibit will be opening next month, I peaked around some panels and it looked very interesting.

So would I recomend it? Sure. Plan your visit well. Bring lots of cash or be prepared to max out your credit card if you intend to eat at any of the museums. Get there at opening--10 AM. Get your tickets to IMAX early also. We saw Sea Monsters and I loved it and my 5 year old was jumping out of the seat!! Arrive at least 20-25 minutes before show if you are there are peak times. While the IMAX theatre is large the good seats (in the middle) fill up quickly and you'll be stuck on the sides. Okay, okay, some dude will say all the seats are good but I will disagree due to experience.

Oh, the dinosaur hall.....yep, I'm sure there are nicer ones around and the 2 of the dinosaurs on display are posed incorrectly but when they were put up the conventional wisdom knew little about how they actually walked and stood. I would imagine it would cost a huge fortune to take the bones apart and put them up correctly.

However, they do have a diorama (I remember seeing it as a child) with all the famous dinosaurs posed in the wrong stances. You would think a new updated panel would explain how much we've learned about dinosaurs since 1912 or whenever it was they put these dinosaurs together.

Go and enjoy.

3  Thank Nanchez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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