Tag Archives: Activities with Children in DC

The Dinosaurs Have Returned to DC

A diplodocus is one of the many dinos featured in the Hall of Fossils


Back in 2014, when it was announced that the Hall of Fossils at the National Museum of Natural History would be closing for five years to undergo a major renovation, one of my first thoughts was of Owen. He was eight years old then, in second grade, and still digging dinosaurs. At that time, he wanted to be paleontologist when he grew up (with a side gig as a hip hop dancer, of course) and loved visits to the “Dino Museum.” I remember thinking that when it finally opened again, he would be 13 years old, in seventh grade, and probably not so into the prehistoric beasts anymore. But it seemed like such a long time away that I couldn’t really even fathom what he would be like at that age — my little boy, a teenager!?

Checking out the old Hall of Fossils when they were little people


Well, that time has come. The new David H. Koch Hall of Fossils-—Deep Time is complete, which means the dinosaurs are back — along with a whole new presentation of 3.7 billion years of life on Earth and how the past informs the present and shapes the future.

A first look at the space

The Nation’s T.rex (the real deal!) devouring a triceratops

Stop and see the Centrosaurus

The 31,0000-square-foot exhibition is nothing short of impressive. Featuring everything from an authentic Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton (read the story of its discovery) to replicas of other large prehistoric species to displays of smaller fossils to all kinds of installations and displays about the history of our planet and the climatic, geological, and human impact on it. Carts with related hands-on activities for all ages are also set up throughout the exhibit. You can experience it all as a journey through time, starting billions of years back and following it into the future.

Smaller fossils on display are just as interesting as the giants

A mechanical pterodactyl

An activity cart about dino tracks

The exhibition was produced with some messages in mind: That all life — past, present, and future is connected and is continually changing over time. Geological processes and global cycles cause ecosystem and evolutionary changes, and mass extinctions have at times devastated life on Earth. There is also a call to us humans to recognize the impact we have and consider our role in shaping the future and the fate of life on Earth.

This all opens to the public on Saturday, June 8, with an Opening Ceremony at 10:15am — the first 300 visitors to the National Mall-side entrance can participate in it. After that, all are welcome to explore, though crowds are expected, and there will be lines. But the museum will be open late, until 7:30pm, both Saturday and Sunday. Costumes are encouraged, so come as your favorite dino or as a paleontologist (but be sure to note safety instructions on this page)! There will be even more events to celebrate the opening of Deep Time on several other weekends. Admission to most of them is free.


As for Owen… my teen is now a rising eighth grader. And while he no longer seeks out books about dinosaurs or requests Dinosaur Planet on Discovery Channel, he is still into science (and basketball and soccer and history and indie rock music, and if you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, he’ll wisely answer something along the lines of, “How can I know now? There are so many possibilities.”). When I told him about the new Hall of Fossils after attending a preview, I remarked that it was kind of bummer it had closed when he at peak dino. His response, “Yeah, but the new one sounds really cool…when can we go?”


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Filed under 2019, All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Special Event, Weekdays, Weekend

Scenes from a Beautiful Fall Day at the U.S. National Arboretum

Autumn sun over the old National Capitol Columns



Not too long ago I posted about 10 Great Places to Enjoy Autumn in the DC Area (that are not Farm Festivals). One of the places included among them was the U.S. National Arboretum, and this past weekend at the locale in northeast DC it was brilliantly evident why.

The whole Arb was bursting with vibrant fall color as foliage in the area is peaking right about now. The red, orange, and yellow tones of many trees and plants throughout its 446 acres are so intense, making for breathtaking scenes everywhere.

#nofilter

A lot of folks were there to savor it all on a gorgeous fall day; I’ve actually never seen the Arb that busy before. But it was great to see so many people enjoying one of the prettiest places in the city (imo). And even with more visitors than usual, the Arboretum is so big, it never feels too crowded.

A popular spot on a nice day

The old National Capitol Columns are a huge draw — they’re so dramatic, especially with the backdrop of autumn-hued trees — but make sure to explore beyond them. There are so many more lovely and interesting sights, including a Bonsai Museum, a natural play area, numerous plant collections, and neat little spots that make you feel like you stumbled upon a bit of magic.

The autumn splendor should last a little while longer, and the forecast indicates we have some nice days coming up to enjoy it. If you go, don’t miss the annual Beautiful Transitions Autumn Bonsai Exhibit, which will run November 10-19, showcasing red maples, yellow ginkgos, and fruited trees in the permanent collection of little trees.

Autumn bonsai

The U.S. National Arboretum is located in Northeast DC off of Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue. Hours are 8am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Read more about the Arboretum in The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids (it tops the list!), in this post about the Washington Youth Garden, and this one with scenes from the gorgeous azalea bloom. And get even more of a glimpse in these image from our visit there yesterday.

Fantastic light creating a golden scene



Sash adds some turquoise to it



Red maple on a blue sky



Greens and golds



A really high five



This bonsai is well on its way to winter foliage



Where’s the tiny partridge for the tiny pear tree?



Chillin’ on the columns



Been visiting the Arb with this guy for a loooong time



A colorful stroll



Picture perfect scenes abound



Too cool (but he actually posed for one)!



Spotted through the arbor



The columns backlit by the sun



Stay gold, Owenboy.



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Filed under 2018, All ages, DC, Fall, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Weekdays, Weekend

Immerse in the “Spirit of Autumn” with a New Exhibit at ARTECHOUSE



Walking into Spirit of Autumn, the latest digital exhibit from ARTECHOUSE, is kind of like entering a seasonal dreamworld. From floor-to-ceiling imagery projected onto the walls to audio of birds singing to opportunities to “play” in leaves, the large-scale installation captures quintessential fall with an enchanting multi-sensory experience for all ages.

Just like the gallery’s debut summer exhibition XYZT: Abstract Landsapes, this one encourages interaction with the help of technology. Visitors can manipulate images with their movements and trigger some elements with sound.

In the main room, leaves will gather and blow in the wind as you walk (or dance!) alongside beautiful autumn scenes. Sound sensors will make kids and adults feel like they have super powers by making it rain, thunder, and lightening with the clap of the hands. In two smaller rooms, you can walk through leaves projected onto the floor and make ethereal swirl of lights appear with each new step.

Your art can be part of the exhibit, too. A back room is set up with tables and supplies to color your own leaf, which will be added to the mix of foliage blowing around the walls in the big gallery. I recommend going there first, so you can enjoy seeing your leaf among the rest as you take in the scenes.

Mine is the spiral 🙂

It’s beautiful and engaging, as well as a unique way to celebrate the season and enjoy innovative art all at once. Kids and adults alike will be dazzled.

Here’s a video peek to go along with the photos:


Spirit of Autumn is running at ARTECHOUSE through November 5. Daytime hours for all ages are 10am – 4pm daily, and admission is $8/child, $12/adult. Evening hours for ages 21+ are 6-10pm, and admission is $20. Book your tickets in advance, as they’re likely to sell out ahead of time.

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Art, DC, Exhibit, Fall, Seasonal, Weekdays, Weekend