Smithsonian City

Space shuttle Discovery at Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center

For all D.C. lacks in the weather department, it is one of the best cities for museums! As my roommates and I continue to explore the city, it is clear that we live next to some pretty amazing museums and monuments. I’d like to take this post to share a few of my favorite (and unexpected) museums so far.

1. The Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center

This museum BLEW MY MIND with how awesome it is and how much I learned! The trek out to the museum (located right next to Dulles Airport) is absolutely worth the time. This museum houses a huge amount of planes, rockets, missiles, the famous Concorde, and even the Discovery Spaceship (which has gone to space over 200 times!). It is an enormous collection, and you are able to get up close to most of the objects on display. I think the best part of the museum is the staff. The folks in red shirts are not just simple staffers, but they are loaded with information about space, military aircraft, and all the science surrounding aerospace engineering. I was able to talk to one of the staffers about their experience as a Navy pilot for 30 years. I can honestly say I left that museum truly inspired to take a physics class when I get back to Berkeley.

2. Postal Museum

This museum takes the prize for most unexpected favorite. I thought (like all rational people) that a museum totally dedicated to mail would be the lamest thing imaginable -- but I was so terribly wrong. The exhibits were very informative (I learned tons about the history, operations, and technology of the postal service) and surprisingly interactive. Even as a 20-year-old, I found the games and activities to be very fun and entertaining. I even got to design my own stamp! While the Air and Space museum is still my all-time favorite, the Postal museum is a very close runner-up. 

3. Newseum

This museum is a very modern and beautiful place that focuses on all things news. The building is designed in a very thoughtful way, and you are guided to make your way down the history of news media. There are some very thought-provoking exhibits, such as the section of the Berlin Wall and the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph exhibit. The exhibits really focus on our right to free speech and the expression of ideas, and pose some very thoughtful questions to the audience. They do a great job of tying history and contemporary events together to export this common theme of free speech. 

Hopefully you’ll keep these places in mind if you ever find yourself in the D.C. area!