I plan to live in museums while I raise my Curly Girl. I want her to be comfortable in museum settings and since the Smithsonian is literally a few miles from us, I hope she will use it to do research when she's curious about history, science and art. Curly Girl's Daddy doesn't see it that way. Museum trips usually start out as a bribe on my part and grumbling on his part, but then on the way home he is effusive in his love for the place he almost didn't come to. He always goes to work and tells people how fun it was! So it was with our recent trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Too much to handle with a toddler, you must pick and choose what you will focus on. This day we focused on the Butterfly Pavillion and Orkin Insect Zoo, and then hit a few things that struck our fancy on our way out.
The hands-down favorite of any kid is The O. Orkin Insect Zoo on the 2nd Floor of the Museum where visitors can observe live insects and their many-legged relatives. Volunteers conduct tarantula feeding demonstrations, work with live insects that visitors may touch and hold, and answer questions about the many-legged creatures that live in the Insect Zoo. It's pretty cool.
Curly Girl braved holding a huge catapillar. She even went back and attempted an abduction to take him out of his tank. Luckily a volunteer saved the creepy crawler while I drug my kid out screaming.
Next up was the Butterfly Pavillion. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 kids 2-12. The exhibit takes scheduled groups every 30 minutes. You can purchase timed tickets to avoid standing in line. We were greeted by hundreds of butterflies as we strolled through the tropical setting. Curly Girl tried to hold the butterflies, but it's a good thing they are pretty quick.
On our way out we happened upon the Discovery Room (located right next to the bathrooms, so everyone who needs a diaper change can't miss it). The room features activities using real Museum objects and interactive, hands-on experiences that allow visitors to explore the natural world at their own pace, guided by their own interests and sense of wonder. Curly Girl was intrigued by the exhibit of real human bones and spent a lot of time with the fossils and the microscopes.
The National Museum of Natural History is known for the dinasaur exhibit, and we did walk through there, but at this point in time Curly Girl showed no interest. I'm sure that will change!
We visited on a Saturday morning. We found parking on the street and were able to get in and out quickly. We visited for just under 2 hours, and had spent enough energy to eat lunch and go down for a long nap.
Pros: Interactive exhibits will be attractive to kids of all ages, and hold the interest of moms and dads as well.
Cons: She kept asking to see a Horsey. You have an entire Hall of Mammals and no horsey? REALLY??
Nevertheless, horsey or no, we will visit again!