I've been to this museum twice. The first time, I didn't get to finish seeing everything, so I went a second time with my family. There is so much to see. It's never ending. Just some tips before visiting:
-Look over the museum map and see what collections you really want to see and what bonus exhibits are in season so you can plan your route around the museum (the map is available online)
-Wear comfortable shoes! The museum is HUGE so you'll be walking for quite a while. I wasn't so smart and I wore my new flats that hadn't been worn-in yet. Oh ho ho, blisters...
-Eat before going in. Technically, you're not allowed to bring food or water in. Everything needs to be bought in the museum. Unfortunately, the cafes in the museum don't provide a wide selection and are quite pricey. My family had to drink all our water before entering and then when we bought drinks inside the museum, we stuffed them into our bags.
-Your bags will be briefly searched before entering the museum.
-Go to the bathroom even if you don't really have to. The lines are long for the bathroom (mainly the one on the first floor), so don't wait until you really have to go. My family picked a bathroom in the Asian section, which was less populated.
-The museum is technically free, but recommends certain prices. Since the museum is pretty well-known and has a vast collection, I would recommend going for at least $15 - $20 per person. Don't be cheap....
-Go early to avoid the crowd and to give yourself plenty of time.
Of course there's a gift shop and it's really nice (but pricey). There's also a secret gift shop that has discounted goods up on the second floor, but it's kind of hidden. All that points to it is a small sign. So try to spot it if you can. I believe you have to either go up or downstairs when you find it.
I definitely recommend this place! You won't regret it!
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