15 Nov'06 :
We took the blue line & transferred to the yellow line & alighted at L'Enfant Plaza which is the closest point to the Natural History Museum - a museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The museum's collections total over 125 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts. The museum is the second most popular of all of the Smithsonian museums. The museum is also home to about 185 professional natural history scientists — the largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of the natural and cultural history in the world.
The museum was established in 1910. Notable exhibits on the first floor (mall entrance) include the Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals , which displays preserved pelts of mammals throughout the world, some of which were collected by former president Theodore Roosevelt. Also located on the first floor is the Hall of Dinosaurs. Adjacent to the dinosaur collection are exhibits which detail the evolution of life on Earth, going as far back as the Pre-Cambrian. The first floor also has many artifacts from non-western cultures.
The second floor contains the National Gem Collection, in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals which includes the Hope Diamond. An IMAX movie theater, featuring films about wildlife, geography, natural history, and related topics, occupies space on both the first and second floors.
The ground floor contains a gift store, cafeteria, and an auditorium. The only notable exhibit on the ground floor is a collection of over 100 bird species which inhabit the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Exhibits also include the O. Orkin Insect Zoo, an insectarium offering direct interaction with insects. Its Butterfly Garden will open in 2007.
We watched two I-Max movies : Sharks 3D and Wild Safari 3D. Sharks are featured as not cruel man eating creatures but wild,fascinating and endangered animals. Duration 42 mts. Wild Safari takes us through a 3000 mile journey on a quest to see Africa's most exciting animals-the elephant,the cape buffalo,the rhino,the leopard and the lion. Duration 45 mts.
Today was a special day - Shobha's 50th birthday. Vijay & Prats had arranged a surprise cake for the occasion and there were gulab jamuns to follow. Every one sang Happy Birthday.