To serve the public

This 2007 photo gives a bird's-eye view of the National Mall and most of the Smithsonian. The museums lie along the corridor between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. Public domain photo by the Architect of the Capitol's Office, via Wikimedia Commons

This 2007 photo gives a bird’s-eye view of the National Mall and most of the Smithsonian.
The museums lie along the corridor between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.
Public domain photo by the Architect of the Capitol’s Office, via Wikimedia Commons

“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 only 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.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. bendichoso

    Hello Ms. Julia, Hope you are well … I have loved the Smithsonian museums since I was a child living in Washington, D.C. … I retired this coming Thursday (3/31), and can’t wait to take short trips to the Smithsonian. I also love to read the signs and take a lot pictures … Thanks for sharing this post. 🙏 God Bless, Ben Jr.

    • Hello, Ben, I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply. If I had been writing this one week ago today (before my catastrophic blackout and fall that night) I would be telling you that Matt and I have plans to go to the Smithsonian several times in the near future. But you know what they say about plans. Kathy H. (next door to you) can tell you more about what has happened. She has been back and forth to hospitals and the Medical Center at VCU with me, and has been a great help. I didn’t want to bother you and Jen because it is very upsetting to see me right now, and I know you have enough to deal with right now in your own circumstances. I am looking a bit less frightening each day, but still if you come over, I might need to put on a mask. Like you, although in a different way, I now have a long and tough road ahead of me. You will continue to be an inspiration! Thankfully, I should be recovered enough to be present for Matt at his upcoming valve replacement surgery when it takes place in the next couple of weeks. I won’t need teeth or an upper jaw for that 😀 . Thank you for being here! ❤

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: