BC in DC: The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


July 13, 2019 — When it comes to large museums, you can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to photograph, choose not to photograph, and choose to get photographed with. With that in mind, here are the photos I took on my latest trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Level of analysis difficulty: I’ve been to this museum a lot over the years and have probably photographed everything in it over the course of those visits.

This time, however, I re-visited the museum for three specific reasons:

1) To see the new life-sized Megalodon model now hanging above the cafe.

2) To reacquaint myself with the Hope Diamond for an upcoming book on cursed objects (Fall 2020, Quirk Press)

3) To see the revamped fossil wing of the museum (dinosaurs, basically), which has been closed for the past five years.

In summary, the Meg was awesome, the Hope Diamond is unchanged in its extraordinariness (and still impossible to pose with because it spins around and is surrounded by glass and pressed around by three layers of crowd), and the new fossil wing was a disappointment for me. It lacked an atmosphere of awe and the exhibit infrastructure swallowed up the actual skeletons, and it felt like maybe a dinosaur exhibit at a much smaller museum and not one at a national museum. Mostly, though, I think it’s because I like my dino exhibits to be dimly lit and looking like they’re from the 19th century. Or I’m uncomfortable with change, one of the two.

Anyway, get to know the real me through this handful of photos I took at a museum with probably a million artifacts on display. I don’t think you’ll learn anything that you didn’t already know about me. Unless we’re just now meeting, in which case, “Hi, I love mummies.”

First thing I saw when I walked in.

This gal has changed a lot since I last saw her. She has shrunk considerably
  (she only takes up half of her custom-made tank now) and she's a dry specimen now
as opposed to immersed in preservative. Archie's faring far better.

Sky Meg!

The smaller of the museum's two giant squids.
I don't know who looks worse, this poor gal or me,
fresh out of the mugginess of DC in July.

Artistic interpretation of Lucy, the 3.2-million-year old hominin
whose remains were found in Ethiopia in the 1970s.

A vampire bat. I will always take photos of vampire bats, especially when the exhibit illustrates
so clearly why we should be terrified of them.



The Hope Diamond, the most popular artifact in the entire museum.