During my visit to Washington, D.C. I also explored some of the many museums the city has to offer. The most popular museums are located on either sides of the National Mall, a very broad parkway stretching from the Washington Monument up until the Capitol building.
Being a history student, I had to pay a visit to the National History Museum. I enjoyed it very much; the topics and exhibits were organized in a more creative and interesting way than what I am used to from German museums. Visuals play the most important role and are often given a chance to just speak for themselves – for younger visitors it is therefore definitely advisable to have someone explaining things for them. With the right guidance, I think this is certainly the best way to explore a museum like that. The downside is that there are also so many people who just walk by, glance at pictures really quickly and don’t allow the impressions to really sink in – learning effect equals zero. However, I saw many student groups with their teachers who had given their students a sort of questionnaire for a scavenger hunt through the museum and that seemed like a really good idea to me (memo to myself: do a scavenger hunt in a museum with my future students).
The picture below the headline, “Americans at War”, was the title of one of the exhibitions in the museum. Surprisingly, it was less patriotic and more critical of parts of the American history than I expected.
The museum had some very interesting artefacts to offer, for example an original armed helicopter from the Vietnam War (can’t remember the name of the model, guys help me out here?) or a (fake) section of the Berlin Wall. One of the hightlights is the original Stars & Stripes Flag from some time around 1777. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures of it since its so old and fragile. The most touching thing, however, was definitely this one corner with letters and notes that people left for their fallen comrades at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. This letter (completely with a can of beer) on the picture below made me tear up a little:
I also went to the National Air & Space Museum, which is definitely a must if you’re in D.C. There you can see so many aircrafts, rockets, missiles, space capsules, commercial airplaines and even Predator drones that have just recently been used in the war in Iraq. You can see the control capsule from the Apollo-12 (not so sure about the number though) space mission, some robots that landed on Mars, climb into the cockpit of a 747 or see an original V-2 rocket from WWII. I enjoyed it a lot, but just imagine how much fun your brothers, boyfriends, husbands and sons must have here? :D
Naturally, those things don’t maintain themselves so there has to be someone who pays for all of it (in this case, Boeing does)!