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Thoughts on the Smithsonian aviation museums?

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  • Thoughts on the Smithsonian aviation museums?

    Hello there, museum-goers. We've finally figured out all the plans, so myself and a bunch of history majors from my university are headed down to Washington for reading week this February. I was just wondering if ACG had any general thoughts/advice regarding the two most exciting Smithsonian museums? I was also hoping someone could tell me how crowded they tend to be, and how close you can get to the aircraft. I really want to get some rear-facing shots of that lovely Fw 190...

    Any help would be appreciated!
    Three Reichs and you're out.

  • #2
    Elliot,

    I did them september last year - it really depends what you are into as to which are best

    Air & Space is a must. Crowds weren't too bad & given the weather at the moment they will probably be even lower now. Plenty of people, but not enough to get in the way.

    As for the other museum - what do you want to see? I did Natural History, US History, American Indian & some of the art galleries on the Capitol mall. If you are a US history fan then the choice is obvious. You will see some truly remarkable stuff there. If you want to see dinosaurs then Natural History is a must. If you are a modern art freak then the galleries on the mall have some of the best you will see. The Indian museum has some brilliant artefacts & free guided tours. It actually doesn't take that long, and you can have some cool 'Indian inspired' food in the cafe (the buffalo burger was great).

    Keep in mind that all the museums are free & depending on how quickly you move you may be able to fit in more than two. American Indian is right next to Air & Space while US history & natural History are next to each other diagonally across the capitol mall.

    If you have any other questions just jump in. Enjoy.
    Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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    • #3
      I've only been to the Air and Space Museum but it was great. As BF69 says, crowds weren't bad. Not empty but far away from packed.

      I love aircraft so it was like heaven for me. If you want I can send you the link to the album I created on facebook with pics of the museum. Only 20-something pictures though. Used to have a webserver where I had more photos.

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      • #4
        If you go to the Malls Air & Space, be sure to make time for the Udvar-Hazy extension near Dulles Airport. It will take an extra half-day or day as it's not near the mall and the rail extension hasn't been extended to Dulles yet but it'll be worth it. And watch out for the traffic that way, it can be difficult. If you can schedule your flight in there really early, take a cab to Udvar Hazy first if you don't have a lot of baggage (if you have a lot and have a rental, then just drive there straightaway), do the Udvar and then when you're done go into town. We were there last year (just before earthquake so we got to go up the Washington Memorial before it closed); any of the Museums at the Mall are good. It just depends on what you like.

        I suggest also the National Portrait Gallery (Presidential), the Naval Heritage Center at the Archives Metro station, and the International Spy museum (costs some money but has some great exhibits). Of course, pretty much any museum there can be good, just depends on what you want.
        If you do the Mall loop, it'll be a long day for sure even if you want to do the main ones and skip some of the smaller one. My family and I went to the Portrait Gallery, Spy Museum, Naval Heritage, in one full day since they're all walkable in 1 area. Plus the Portrait Gallery has a really nice covered courtyard to hang out in (don't know what it will be like in winter but it was great during summer!). Have fun, it's got so much to see....BTW, if you see the Korean War Memorial, I've been told during the right weather conditions, it can be kinda spooky when the fog hits and clears up slowly; the soldiers appear out of the mist and.....Also visit the VN War memorial, if you get the chance, it's right next door.

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