To serve the public
“The Smithsonian is a great museum that annually attracts more than 20 million visitors, every single one of whom was there when we arrived…my suggestion for the Smithsonian is: If you really want to serve the public, you should put in an exhibit called: A Big Dark Room Filled With Mattresses.” — Dave Barry
Even if you love the Smithsonian as much as I do, you probably smiled when you read Dave Barry’s quote. Perhaps it’s no accident that Mr. Smithson himself never saw the museum he established, nor even visited the country where he had it built.
Seriously, the Smithsonian– actually not just one museum, but a whole collection of them– is enormous and amazing, with something for everyone. But good luck finding it. And be prepared to do a lot of walking.
I’ve often thought that one of the best things about living near DC is the chance to visit the Smithsonian for two or three hours at a time. More than that, and my brain goes on overload. Plus, it’s good to be able to visit alone sometimes. I’m the type of person who wants to stop and read all the signs and take pictures of almost everything, which drives some people crazy. (I’m not naming names here, but yours is likely one of them.)
If you live too far away to make short visits, I do recommend that you allocate at least one day to explore these museums, most of which are spread along a pedestrian-only expanse called the National Mall, conveniently located near all the most famous monuments. “Near” being a relative term, since they too require a lot of walking. Cars are obviously discouraged; the National Mall has no (that’s right, ZERO) parking facilities.
Luckily, although the Mattress exhibit is not yet open (nor even planned) there are a lot of lovely gardens and park benches for resting and taking in the beautiful spring weather. So even if you only want to see the Moon Rock, or the Hope Diamond, or Dorothy’s ruby slippers, or Seinfeld’s puffy shirt, you can still have a good time. Just wear comfortable shoes.
Today’s post is dedicated to all DC visitors, in anticipation of next week’s long-planned arrival of FOUR fellow bloggers, one of whom is coming all the way from New Zealand! Stay tuned…