Washington DC houses many iconic buildings and neoclassical monuments in the National Mall. In fact, you can understand the past and future of the United States by including the National Museum of American History and National Air and Space Museum in your tours of Washington DC.
National Museum of American History
A part of the renowned Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of American History is located on the National Mall at 14th street. Since 1964, the museum has shared the rich past of America by showcasing 3 million artifacts. The American History Museum houses one-of-a-kind collection of items including the actual banner that inspired the country’s national anthem.
Through its multiple exhibits, research, and a variety of enrichment programs and events, this National Museum of American History helps visitors to understand the nation’s past in the hope of enlightening them and look forward to a peaceful future. For instance, you can learn more about the first US President George Washington and view his sword here, and also discover how Hollywood helped in shaping the country by checking out Dorothy’s ruby red slippers.
The National Museum of American History was found in 1964 and welcomed its first visitors in January. It was officially the 6th Smithsonian building on the National Mall in Washington. The construction for this museum actually began in 1950’s and the architects who were assigned to look after this project are Charles Follen McKim, William Rutherford Mead, and Stanford White – it was their last project and that became a national historic landmark.
The original name of the American History Museum was The Museum of History and Technology. The name was changed in 1980 to represent its mission of collecting, studying, and interpreting the objects that are reflective of the American people better.
Things to See
The top-rated exhibits in the museum include:
- Abraham Lincoln’s top hat
- The original American flag
- Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz
- The gowns of America’s first ladies
There are many other exhibits too, which leave an indelible impression on you. The first floor displays the way transportation and technology evolved in the US. Here, you can have the liberty of browsing through various exhibits including America on the move, science in American life exhibiting robots on the road, Spark!Lab, an interactive exhibit, and Bon Appétit! Julia’s Child’s Kitchen.
The second floor contains museum’s brand new welcome center and many rotating exhibits like the original Star-Spangled Banner and a statue of US President George Washington. The third-floor exhibits are dedicated to sharing cultural influences that helped in shaping the country to bring people together. Here, you can learn about American presidents, and their personal as well as public life. Furthermore, the floor displays several tributes to sports, entertainment, and media.
National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum deals with the country’s futuristic side, and includes an Apollo 11 command module, a few real rocks from the Moon, and many other out of the world artifacts. Furthermore, you can see planes like the Wright Brothers’ aircraft and the spirit of St. Louis in the museum. Apart from that, discover the history of the world’s leading air and space program including innovation and technology that made it possible to land a man on the Moon.
There are 22 exhibition galleries in the Air and Space Museum, where you can explore more about the universe. The museum covers the history of aviation, spaceflight, astronomy, and planetary science. Following are some of the popular displays in the National Air and Space Museum.
The Aerobatic Flight
This is an exhilarating type of flying, in which a pilot performs the precision maneuver. Here, civilian pilots fly aerobatics for fun, whereas military pilots use this for combat tactics. Millions of spectators watch aerobatics demonstrations each year at the air show.
America by Air
This explores the history of air transportation in the US, and how improvements in technology have revolutionalized air travel and its experience. Moreover, the highlights include a Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor, Boeing 247, and DC-3 Airliners.
Apollo to the Moon
This display tells the historic story of the human exploration of the Moon by the United States. The highlights range from a huge F-1 rocket engine and a scale model of the Saturn V rocket used to space food and personal items that astronauts took in space and also the spacesuits worn by Apollo astronauts on the Moon.
Apart from this, there is virtual reality and simulators through which you can experience what it is like to be in space. The technology used here is state-of-the-art motion based virtual reality ride and the latest visual display technology. On top of that, the museum has a spacewalk area too, where you can test their new manned-maneuvering unit and witness the dangers of living in space.