The Museum of National History is one of my favorite places. I first went as a kid and remember what every kid does- the enormous dinosaur skeletons, the huge diorama of the whale and the squid, the windows upon windows looking upon the Ark’s worth of critters that Teddy Roosevelt shot. Much of it is the same today, only modernized. It is still a temple to science, as it should be.
My favorite hangout is the Hayden Planetarium, where they have a spectacular display outside to explain the incredible scales of the universe. From quarks and protons to the greatest stars, these spheres put the universe in perspective. And sometimes, you need a little perspective.
They don’t have a T. Rex, or we missed it. But they did have full skeletons of cave bears and other huge mammals like this one. I think it was a sloth.
They have a lot of other fun stuff, like an excellent exhibit of human ancestors. Yes, the dioramas may be modernized but they still feel weird, as you stare at the oddly pale hominids in unlikely states of undress. I’m unsure what that teaches us, other than that Neanderthal women had nice tits. The skulls and skeletons, and the straightforward explanation of our complicated ancestry, our knowledge of which is still evolving, was the star of the exhibit.
Between this and the Egyptian collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, my imagination was piqued as a child and I still love wandering these museums and drinking in history and the discoveries we have made about the universe.
And just for fun you can put yourself in different videos. Exploring the ocean, or on the sadly dust-binned space shuttle: