Tag Archives: National Geographic Museum

Journey with Earth Explorers at the National Geographic Museum

An Earth Explorer journal entry

An Earth Explorer journal entry



Want to witness animal migrations from a hot air balloon, submerse in the deep sea to study marine life, discover new species in the rain forest, or gear up for a polar expedition? These are all adventures — simulated ones, anyway — to be experienced at the National Geographic Museum’s newest exhibition.

An explorer greeting at the entrance

An explorer greeting at the entrance

Earth Explorers takes you on a journey around the globe, offering a glimpse into the work and passion of real explorers in the field. Hands-on displays, interactive installations, and Nat Geo’s signature stunning visuals are your guides in this informative, inspiring, and fun experience.

Eye-popping exhibits will thrill all ages

Eye-popping exhibits will thrill all ages

Learn more about this featured Earth Explorer

Learn more about this featured Earth Explorer

The exhibit features six stations covering different regions and types of explorations: Base Camp, Oceans, Rain Forests, Mountains and Caves, African Savannah, and Polar Regions. Each area provides a sense of the work environment in its particular setting. Video footage and photos let you see the places and wildlife that exists there. Gear on display shows you the equipment needed to do the work. And field journals from the explorers provide insight into their work — how they got started, how they approach expeditions, what impels them to probe the unknown, and advice for future explorers.

Journals reveal more about each explorer

Journals reveal more about each explorer

The view from the sub

The view from the sub

Get a bird's eye view of the African savannah

Get a bird’s eye view of the African savannah

Guests can get even more of a feel for the work in immersive installations that replicate the experiences of the explorers. Delve into the ocean in a submarine, take an aerial survey of the African savannah from a hot air balloon, study ecosystems under a tent in the rain forest, check out an Arctic cabin and learn how scientists study polar animals, and ride in an off road vehicle used in the field. These are just some of the larger interactive elements. Smaller ones, like touchscreen displays and fun, wall-mounted trivia games, abound.

Chill out in an Arctic cabin

Chill out in an Arctic cabin

Interactives are fun and educational

Interactives are fun and educational

There are so many neat details to the exhibit that you’ll feel like an explorer yourself as you go through it. You don’t want to miss something that might provide key insight into a particular region or expedition or discovery. And a unique supplement is an interactive digital experience that utilizes an advanced technology, augmented reality (AR), to bring various animals inside the exhibit to life on your iOS or Android device.

Tropical trivia

Tropical trivia

Earth Explorers is also an exhibit with all-ages appeal. While probably best for about ages 8-13 — there is quite a bit of reading and information that older kids will digest more easily — younger children will love the hands-on and immersive parts along with striking and playful imagery and video. No matter what age, it’s meant to inspire and get kids to think about what they might want to be when they grow up.

It’s given me all kinds of ideas! 😉

Earth Explorers is on view at the National Geographic Museum through September 10, 2017. Tickets are $15/adult, $12/seniors, student, & military, $10/ages 5-12, free for under 5. Museum hours are 10am – 6pm.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Museums, Nature, Tweens, Weekdays, Weekend

Animal Close-Ups & Crocs at the National Geographic Museum

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If you don’t get off the well trodden museum path of the National Mall every now and then, you could miss out on some amazing exhibitions in other areas around DC. One place where you can just about always count on a great, enriching experience is the National Geographic Museum. The exhibits often appeal to a wide age range, include interactive elements that engage visitors, and focus on aspects of the world that are both fascinating and significant.

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In fact, there currently are two exhibits at Nat Geo that meet these standards — and then some. Photo Ark, which opened in the fall is a gorgeous collection of portraits of the world’s animal species.

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The exhibit puts the focus on conservation through photographer Joel Sartore’s lens by showcasing images of species and highlighting their conservation status, which range from least concern to threatened to endangered to, sadly, extinct (with more levels in between).

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Many of the portraits were shot at zoos and aquariums around the world, and you can get an idea of how some of them were done by peering into photo tents on display — inside are adorable videos of small animals posing for their close-ups. You can also catch scenes of the process on TV screens mounted on the walls.

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A whole area is dedicated to various species of reptiles and snakes, their unique features and brilliant skin patterns projected on and streaming across large screens. There is also information about each creature and quotes printed on the walls. All of it together makes the exhibit as thought-provoking and engaging as it is beautiful.

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The museum zooms in on one animal with a whole other exhibit: CROCS. And it’s one you can really sink your teeth into (from their tagline!) through a variety of interesting displays, interactive components, video, and live crocodiles!

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We joined a guided tour of the exhibit to get some background on crocodilians, which are up to hundreds of millions years old. But you can learn a lot on your own from the many displays and installations. Some of the kids’ favorite features included a sound board where they could listen to different croc calls, a force gauge to compare their strength to that of a croc’s jaw, and a life-sized model of one of the world’s largest crocodiles, Gomek.

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The highlight, though, were the real crocodiles in a few dioramas around the exhibit that were made to simulate their natural habitats. The crocs don’t actually do that much — just seeing an eye or mouth open or a foot move the tiniest bit was cause for excitement — but it was pretty neat to see them hanging out in the museum. You might catch baby alligators swimming in one of them, which is a pretty cute sight.

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You can check out both of the National Geographic exhibits in one outing — they don’t take a long time to tour (though you could definitely spend a good amount of time if you wanted to), and admission to the museum gets you into everything. Even better, both can be appreciated by visitors of all ages.

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Photo Ark will be on view through April 10, CROCS through May 8. Admission is $15/adult, $12/seniors & students, $10/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under — look for a discount here. The museum is open daily 10am – 6pm.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Museums, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Go Monster Fish at the National Geographic Museum

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The National Geographic Museum just debuted its newest exhibit, and true to what I consider their signature style when it comes to these showcases, it’s fascinating and educational and fun all at once.

Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants takes visitors on a journey around the globe to discover some of the behemoth creatures that lurk beneath the world’s rivers. Based on the Nat Geo WILD series Monster Fish, the exhibit highlights nearly 20 fish that show host Dr. Zeb Hogan has found and featured in various episodes.

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Owen and I got a sneak preview before it opened to the public, including a chance to tour part of it with Zeb himself, and we both found it interesting and fun to view and experience. The displays are presented by regions of the world with background on different kinds of fish, supplemented with video from the series, photography, and some other interesting visuals, like actual scales from some species. But the centerpieces of it all are magnificent sculptures of several fish, commissioned for the exhibit and intricately designed to convey just how massive and unique the river dwellers are. Even better, a couple of them are actually accessible to visitors — you can touch the scales of a giant barb and climb upon a sawfish.

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The interactive elements don’t stop there — there are games for all to enjoy — and they all relay some kind of lesson in sustainability and conservation. You can maneuver a ball through an ecosystem (a game table that you tilt) to areas designated to protect habitats and avoid ones that are threatening. There’s a giant scale that multiple people can stand on to compare your collective weight to different monster fish. Little ones will love “going fishing” for rubber balls then release them through a plastic chute. Another game has players determine if you keep a fish or throw it back depending on the species and size. You can view footage form the Monster Fish show in a mini-theatre made to look like an air boat. An interesting — and eye-opening — installation shows the “water cost” of our everyday habits.

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If you want to see fish, you don’t just have to view the models. There are a few aquariums filled with fish, though aside from one alligator gar, they are all little fishies. But that just illuminates the magnitude of the monsters.

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Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants will be at the National Geographic Museum through October 11, 2015. Hours are 9am – 6pm. Admission is $11/adult, $7/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under. FYI: Goldstar has a deal on tickets for select dates.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Museums, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

“Spinosaurus” is the New Big Thing at Nat Geo

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The timing of the National Geographic Museum’s newest exhibit, Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous, is rather auspicious — for them and for us. Just months after the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum began their five-year hiatus for major renovations, Nat Geo debuted this exhibition, and it’s sure to satisfy dino enthusiasts, young and old, jones-ing for a prehistoric beast fix.

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The centerpiece of the exhibit is a life-sized skeletal model of Spinosaurus, the first truly semiaquatic dinosaur and the largest predatory dinosaur known to have roamed the Earth. At more than 50 feet long and 20 feet high, Spinosaurus measured more than nine feet longer than the world’s largest T-Rex. Little museum-goers will undoubtedly be enthralled by the colossal installation along with other reproductions of Cretaceous creatures on display.

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For those with larger attention spans, the fascinating backstory of Spinosaurus is told through a series of interactive displays. Literally windows into history, they feature panels with “vistas” of various locations in places that were significant in the Spino’s discovery — the office of the paleontologist with the the first findings, a Moroccan fossil market, Milan’s Musuem of Natural History. Multimedia elements such as video from World War II when key artifacts were destroyed and the discovery of Spinosaurus bones in Morocco offer further insight. And real dinosaur fossils, a replica of the cave where most of Spino’s remains were found, and sketches of its first unearthed bones (that were later lost in the war) help complete the narrative.

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There’s more beyond the exhibit hall. Don’t miss the life-size “in the flesh” replica of Spinosaurus in the courtyard next to M Street. And if you really want to score big with your dino obsessed child, the museum is offering Young Explorer birthday parties with a Discover Dinosaurs! theme.

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Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous will be on display at the National Geographic Museum through April 12, 2015. Admission is $11/adult, $9/senior, $7/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under. Museum hours are 10am – 6pm.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Museums, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Giveaway: Enter to Win Tickets to “Flying Monters 3D” at the National Geographic Museum!

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If you’re looking for activities to do with the kids on weekends this winter, an outing to the National Geographic Museum is a good one to keep in mind. Along with a few great exhibits on view right now, you can also catch a screening of Flying Monsters 3D on their giant screen!

For thousands of years, humans believed that flying monsters existed. They became mythologized, with stories about them shared around the world. Could they have really existed? Millions of years ago dinosaurs were on their rise to dominate Earth. But another group of reptiles was set to make an extraordinary leap: Pterosaurs were about to take control of the skies. The story of how and why these mysterious creatures took to the air is more fantastic than any fiction.

Flying Monsters 3D plays on Saturdays and Sundays at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm. Running time is approximately 40 minutes. Tickets are $7. The National Geographic Museum is located at 1145 17th Street NW. Hours are 10am – 6pm daily.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a family four-pack of tickets to see Flying Monsters 3D, leave a comment below telling me your favorite holiday film. To be eligible to enter, you must also like KidFriendly DC on Facebook. The giveaway will run through this weekend, and a winner will be drawn at random. Good luck!

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Filed under DC, Educational, Exhibit, Giveaway, Gradeschoolers, Movies, Museums, Preteens, Teens, Weekend