Part 4 of my trip to Washington DC… The Museum of American History.
For those of you who don’t know I’m a bit of a history buff and my buffyness started with the Civil War. So when I was going to Washington DC and thought of things I could in the evening, the Museum of American History seemed like an obvious choice. It’s been a while ago, but my trip was during the Easter/Jewish holidays in March, meaning there were vacationers everywhere, luckily I spend my days in a training class. I arrived at the musem around 5pm, as all the tour busses were leaving the mall area. It was still a bit crowded when I got there, but it was empty by the time I left around 7pm.
The first place I visited was the Abraham Lincoln section, I believe this was a temporary exhibit. The first problem with this exhibit was that the entry/exit was disorganized. There was a sign near the entrance saying to stay to the right, I think this was for the line that formed during the day, but when there was no line it sent me to the right, when I should have gone left when entering the exhibit. I ended up doing the exhibit in reverse. I still enjoyed it, refreshed my memory and got to see cool stuff. They had some nice historical pieces and good signs in the exhibit explaining things.
Next up was the exhibit on the Presidents. I also enjoyed this exhibit and the museum was fairly empty by now so my friend and I could enjoy it in peace. It had some interesting pieces, like military uniforms, the more interesting ones that a couple presidents wore. I also liked the exhibit piece that showed the military rank of each of the presidents. I did learn a few things about the presidents and totally thought this exhibit was worthy of a visit.
Keeping with the presidential theme I went to see the First Lady exhibit. This was primarly clothing that was worn by the first ladies. I’m no fashion expert, but I always enjoy exhibits like this. It’s dummy proof – either you like the dress or you don’t, and the little captions just tell you who wore it and for what. How easy is that! My friend noticed that some of the first ladies were not actually the wives of the presidents but were called First Ladies. Later research revealed that presidents without wives sometimes asked a daughter or other suitable family member to serve as White House hostess and perform the duties of First Lady. I also noticed that some of these first ladies were quite beautiful and others got hit with an ugly stick. Sorry, but it’s true. Some of the dresses also got hit by the ugly stick. I think it was Calvin Cooleges wife who wore lots of flapper dresses, very contrary to the look we’re used to from contemporary first ladies. The biggest disappointment though was Michelle Obama’s dress from the Inaugeration ball. It looks much better on TV, in real life it looked like it had cotton balls and silver spiders on it.
Our final stops were at a coin exhibit, that took about 2 minutes, even my friend who was into coins was disappointed. We quickly moved onto the exhibit on transportation – boats and trains. Some of the exhibits were really cool and some were a little goofy, but I think this exhibit was designed more for kids.
I enjoyed this museum, thought it was interesting without being too heavy duty. After seeing the crowds when I got there though, I would recommend going after 5pm, when it is open later. I felt like I saw a large about of the museum with little hassel by getting there so late, certainly not all of it, but enough before feeling like the museum was sucking the life out of me.