Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 13: Museum Overload Day

Because the weather reports were for rain this day, we juggled our remaining activities around and decided to visit not one, not two, but three museums in one day: Ford's Theater, the Natural History Museum, and the Air and Space Museum. More than a little crazy, I know. It worked well for a start, though.

First up: Ford's Theatre National Historical Site. Its run by the National Park Service, so you can get your passport stamped, and collect Civil War trading cards.

My little Lincoln aficionado was very excited to be here.

Beneath the theater, they have a wonderful museum all about Abraham Lincoln, and his death. We learned more than I ever knew about all the co-conspirators. You mainly hear about John Wilkes Booth, but there were over a dozen different men and women arrested and charged with his murder, and with the attempted murders of the Vice-President and Secretary of State that night.

You obviously can't go inside the box where Lincoln was shot, but you can get pretty close, as Ryan demonstrates.

It is a bit morbid, in a way, but it is such a cornerstone event in American history, that you can't help but be in awe of the events that happened inside this theater box, the night of April 14, 1865.

They have actual plays you can see inside the theater, but not during the time we were there. The park ranger explained to us that they always have a  civil rights theme to the plays shown.

After you visit the theater, you cross the street to the Petersen house, which is where they carried President Lincoln after he was shot, and where he died. (and yes, Ryan bought a Lincoln hat. His third hat for the trip)

Inside the Petersen House is more of a museum about the assassination, and then they have THIS.

The most incredible book display I've ever seen. And every book was about Abraham Lincoln. Color us jealous.

And they have the gun John Wilkes Booth used to kill Abraham Lincoln.


Just. Whoa.

Next up: the Natural History Museum.

Its an interesting hodgepodge of natural history, dead animals, live animals, rocks and minerals, dead insects, and live insects.

And some live insects that I wish were dead insects, like these ginormous hissing cockroaches. Color me disgusted. The only kind of cockroach I ever want to see is a dead one.

They also had an Easter Island statute. Which my kids recognized right away, thanks to ... the movie Hop. "Easter Island is real, Mommy!" exclaimed Ryan in utter delight upon seeing this head. Yes, sweetie, it is. Its just not the real home of the Easter Bunny.

Our combined favorite part was the Butterfly Exhibit - you do pay a small extra fee for this, but its worth it.

Its smaller than the Houston one, but the size worked in our favor, because many of them were landing on us.

And on Lincoln's hat, possibly my favorite photo of the day. I had to snap quick, so the quality is rotten. But I just loved watching the butterflies land on Abraham Lincoln's hat.

And now for lots of butterfly photos (sorry)...

And then we went to my favorite part of the museum ... the Harry Winston gallery!

Featuring the Hope Diamond!

This will probably come as no surprise, but this was not Team Danger's favorite part of the museum.

In fact, this rated just below the First Ladies' gowns at the American History museum as far as they were concerned.

But, ooohhhh, how I love the emeralds.

The crystals met with a bit more enthusiasm from Team Danger.

Especially since there was one with a sign that read, "Please Touch Me!"

The color combinations fascinated me.

And then there were the dinosaurs.

Alex and Carl looked at these a lot.

Ryan was starting to get a bit fussy, though, so he and I rested for a bit after he saw the t-rex.

You'd never believe we were just minutes away from a meltdown, would you?

Finally, we walked along the Mall to head down to the Air and Space Museum. The Castle interested them (it's a castle! after all), but since its really just a glorified Visitor Center/admin building for the Smithsonian, we skipped it.

You can see a few puddles in these photos, so it must have rained a bit while we were indoors. But it was beautiful once we went outside - people were even flying kites along the Mall - and I really wish we would have gone to the memorials instead. Oh well. Hindsight is 50/50.

And here is quite possibly one of the worst photos Carl ever took of the boys and I in front of the Capitol. Seriously, Carl? What is up with this composition?

Walking along the Mall, I really wanted to pop into the Sculpture Gallery, but Carl was a man on a (space) mission, and sculptures weren't really on his plate for the late afternoon. So this is all I saw :(

Once inside the Air and Space Museum, well, its pretty overwhelming.

Carl is really, really into airplanes.

Me, not so much.

I did find a few things to keep me interested, though. Like the exhibit on World War II planes that came with its very own London Underground station waiting to be bombed by the Germans.

Even I couldn't help but be impressed with the Wright Brothers plane.

They have a whole room dedicated to the Wright Brothers, and we all enjoyed this part of the museum.

We touched a moon rock.

And we found amusement in other parts of the museum.

Like the fact that the Spirit of St. Louis (a plane famous enough even I know about it)  was ... a Ryan.

Carl and Alex again looked at probably half the museum, though, while Ryan sat things out. And when he discovered a McDonalds inside the museum, complete with the Minions happy meal, well ... I caved and bought him a happy meal. It was, after all, almost seven pm, and apparently children have this thing about eating dinner in a timely fashion, and don't quite understand about making the most of your time in the city when the museums stay open late.

We skipped the imax movies - we'd seen most of them before, here in Austin and other Texas spots - but we did get tickets for a planetarium show. The boys said that was their first time ever in a planetarium, so I felt kind of bad - not sure how we've missed out on that before, considering Carl and I have been numerous times together.

At the end, we visited the three story gift shop in the museum - our last real gift shop for the trip, since both boys spent the last of their DC Dollars. Ryan purchased astronaut gloves which he immediately renamed IronMan gloves - not quite sure why, but then, its hard to understand the mindset of a seven year old sometimes.

Up Next: Pandas, Presidents, and Paddleboats oh my!

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