Tag Archives: Smithsonian

Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C.)

National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. 2/17/09

National Museum of the American Indian, National Mall, Washington, D.C. * http://www.nmai.si.edu/
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is a museum dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. It was established in 1989 through an Act of Congress. Operating under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, it has three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which opened on September 21, 2004 on Fourth Street and Independence Avenue Southwest; the George Gustav Heye Center, a permanent museum in New York City; and the Cultural Resources Center, a research and collections facility in Suitland, Maryland. The museum’s architect and project designer is the Canadian Douglas Cardinal of the Blackfoot. Disagreements during construction led to Cardinal’s being removed from the project, but the building retains his original design intent. His continued input enabled its completion. The National Museum of the American Indian is home to the collection of the former Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation. The collection includes more than 800,000 objects, as well as a photographic archive of 125,000 images. Synopsis from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_the_American_Indian.
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United States Botanical Gardens (D.C.)

United States Botanical Gardens, Washington, D.C. 2/17/09

United States Botanical Gardens: (A HREF=”http://www.usbg.gov/”>http://www.usbg.gov/)
is one of the Nation’s most important botanical gardens. It is located on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., near Garfield Circle, at the east end of the National Mall. The facility is supervised by the Congress through the Architect of the Capitol who is the groundskeeper of the Capitol. Open daily even on federal holidays (except June 3) until 5 pm. It is the oldest and most continually-operating botanical gardens in the U.S. In 1838 Charles Wilkes set out on the United States Exploring Expedition commissioned by Congress to circumnavigate the globe and explore the Pacific Ocean. During this trip (the “Wilkes Expedition”), Wilkes collected live and dried specimens of plants and was one of the first to use wardian cases to maintain live plants on long voyages. Wilkes returned in 1842 with a massive collection of plants previously unknown in the United States. These dried specimens comprised the core of what is now the National Herbarium, a herbarium curated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. The live specimens and seeds came to be housed in the Old Patent Office greenhouse, and were cared for there until 1850. At that time, a botanic garden was built to house the collection in front of the Capitol, where the Capitol reflecting pool is now located. The Building was moved to its present location in 1933 just to the southwest of the Capitol, bordered by Maryland Avenue on the north, First Street on the east, Independence Avenue on the south, and Third Street on the west. The Gardens are separated into the following sections;

  • The Garden Court
  • Rare and Endangered Plants (rare species, endangered species)
  • Plant Exploration
  • Orchid House (orchids)
  • Medicinal Plants (medicinal plants)
  • Desert (desert species)
  • Oasis (oasis)
  • Garden Primeval (primeval)
  • Plant Adaptation
  • Jungle (jungle species; this is the largest of the rooms, and includes a second-story catwalk so that the jungle canopy may be observed from both below and above)
  • Children’s Garden (courtyard; features many thriving temperate annuals used to encourage interest in plants)
  • Southern Exposure (courtyard),on the south side of the building, is surrounded by glass walls, receiving more warmth. It features many plants from the Southeast and Southwest, which would not be able to live in the colder District of Columbia climate if not for the microclimate)

The Oasis and administrative offices are the only places in the complex with air conditioning. Each room is closely monitored by a computer-operated sensors to maintain the environment best suited to the plants in that room. Humidity, sunlight and temperature are regulated by means of a misting system, retractable shades and levered windows. All plants are watered daily by hand. The gardens are fragrant, beautiful, and not to be missed when visiting Washington, D.C. Rating: 5+ stars out of 5.
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Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.

Exhibits in the Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (Washington, D.C.)
intersection of 10th Street and Constitution Ave., NW in Washington, D.C. 20560. http://www.mnh.si.edu/visit/
The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s preeminent museum and research complex. The Museum is dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery, and learning about the natural world through its unparalleled research, collections, exhibitions, and education outreach programs. Opened in 1910, the green-domed museum on the National Mall was among the first Smithsonian building constructed exclusively to house the national collections and research facilities. From the history and cultures of Africa with the earliest Mammalian ancestors and primate diversity around the world, from dinosaurs to rare gemstone, The main building on the National Mall contains 1.5 million square feet of space overall and 325,000 square feet of exhibition and public space; altogether the Museum is the size of 18 football fields, and houses over 1000 employees. With a growing network of interactive websites, the Museum is transforming itself into a hub for national and international electronic education, accessible to anyone with access to the internet. In the center of the Museum’s exhibition and research programs are its expertly documented collections: more than 125 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts. Over 3½ million specimens are out on loan each year; over 15,000 visitor days are spent in the collections; and there are almost 600,000 additional visits to collection data bases available on the Web. The Museum includes a state-of-the-art collections storage facility in Suitland, Maryland; a marine science research facility in Ft. Pierce, Florida; and field stations as far away as Belize, Alaska, and Kenya. Research activities are organized into seven departments, and a number of affiliated U.S. government agencies on-site contribute to the Museum’s strength, including the Department of the Interior (U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division), the Department of Agriculture (Systematic Entomology Laboratory), the Department of Commerce (National Marine Fisheries Service Systematics Laboratory), and the Department of Defense (Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit). Through its research, collections, education and exhibition programs, NMNH serves as one of the world’s great repositories of scientific and cultural heritage as well as a source of tremendous pride for all Americans. The Museum is free. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.


This years visit to the Museum on 2/21/2009 provided me with a fascinating viewing of “Orchids Through Darwin’s Eyes”, “Soil Wisdom”, and “Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th Century” exhibits which consumed my fascination and time. Definitely a must visit while the exhibits are running. (Rating 5 stars out of 5).

Most of the photos from the 2009 visit will be posted in a new blog I’m writing on Natural Science, Archaeology, and Botany at www.technogypsie.com/science/. In the next few days look for some great artifacts, bones, and plants to be posted!

Museum of Natural History