Tag Archives: Smithsonian Exhibits

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 was 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

The Weekend Round-Up: March 10-11

City kid on the loose


The options for recreation with the kiddos this weekend are varied and sundry, for sure.  From a brand new math exhibit to art shows and programs to a St. Patty’s Day parade to a host of outdoor options, and much, much more in between, there’s plenty to indulge all ages and interests.  Whatever picks your family narrows it down to, enjoy!  Happy Weekend!

Math Comes Alive!
Where: S. Dillon Ripley Center
When: March 10 – June 3
Admission: Free
See how math figures in to real life through a brand new exhibit opening at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center on Saturday. MathAlive! features an array of interactive displays that give kids an opportunity to see for themselves — they can a 3D snowboard race, operate NASA robotics simulations, design and play their own video games, control a Mars rover, and experience real math at work in everything from nature to music to dancing to movie-making. The exhibit will run from March 10 to June 3.

St. Patrick’s Parade of Washington, DC
Where: Constitution Ave. from 7th to 17th Streets NW
When: Sunday, 12pm
Admission: Free
Find a spot on the curb along Constitution Ave. between 7th to 17th Streets NW to watch the 41st annual parade roll through the city. Floats, marching bands, Irish dancers, bag pipers, and members of the police and fire departments will be part of the celebratory spectacle.

Cartoons Among the Stars
Where: Rock Creek Park Nature Center
When: Saturday, 10am
Admission: Free
Twenty-five lucky kids are in for a treat this Saturday! Rock Creek Park invites kids ages 4 and up to discover cartoon characters in the night sky. Guests should bring your sleeping bag, pillow, and astronomical mind and be ready for a unique planetarium experience. But here’s the catch: the program is open to only 25 people. Free tickets will be available 30 minutes before start time, so be sure to get there early to get yours (and have a Plan B just in case).

Storytime with Kristi Yamaguchi
Where: Hooray for Books
When: Saturday, 10am
Admission: Free
Join the Olympic gold medalist and world champion figure skater for a reading of her new children’s book, It’s a Big World, Little Pig. The story describes Poppy the Pig’s adventures as she heads to the World Games ice skating championship in Paris. Of course you can purchase a copy of the book while you’re there – 100% of profits benefit early childhood literacy programs supported by Kristi’s Always Dream Foundation.

“Play” with Art
Where: The Torpedo Factory
When: Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 12-6pm
Admission: Free

How about an art exhibit that you’re not worried about your kids getting their hands on? The Art League’s new exhibit, Play, actually welcomes visitors to touch, including interactive artwork that can be handled, added to, moved around, and more. The exhibit will be on display at The Torpedo Factory (105 North Union Street in Old Town Alexandria) through April 2. Hours are Mon – Sat 10am-6pm (open ’til 9pm on Thurs), Sun 12-6pm. Admission is free.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Where: Local Lowe’s Stores
When: Saturday, 10am
Admission: Free

The home improvement store hosts free bimonthly workshops for kids, and during this session they can step right up and try their building luck with a carnival hoops kit! Bring the kids into any Lowe’s store to construct a free wooden project (with parent help). Each participant also receives a free apron, goggles, a project themed patch, and a certification of merit upon completion of their project. Go here to register.

Fishy X-rays
Where: National Museum of Natural History
When: Saturday, 1-3pm
Admission: Free
Get an “inside” look at fish in this session of the Museum’s monthly Second Saturday Arts & Science program. Inspired by the exhibit X-ray Vision: Fish Inside Out, participants can learn about fish evolution and diversity through observation of fish x-rays and photographs, using iPads and digital imagery.

NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Violins, and Trombones, and Bears, Oh, My!
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Saturday, 11am & 1:30pm; Sunday 1:30pm & 4pm
Admission: $18
This brand new show for wee children features NSO violinist Marissa Regni with NSO trombonist Barry Hearn. Violin and trombone, what an unusual instrument combination! Ages 3-5.

Intersections: A New America Arts Festival
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by Performance
It’s the third and final weekend of the Atlas’ celebration of art as a form of connection and communication. Family entertainment on Saturday and Sunday includes Family Folktales with Charles H. Clyburn, the play Locomotion, the Kennedy String Quartet, and the Metropolitan Youth Tap Ensemble, and Bridgette and Dawn playing the weekend Boogie Babes show. Visit the Intersections website for show times, descriptions, and ticket info.

Dr. Seuss on the Loose!
Where: National Children’s Museum Launch Zone
When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free
Drop in at the NCM as they wish Dr. Seuss a very happy (belated) birthday. After making their own wacky story characters out of recycled materials, guests learn how to make a book where they can write about all of the character’s adventures. At noon and 1pm, the Cat in the Hat will read classic Dr. Seuss favorites.

The Magic Lamp of Alladin
Where: Kenmore Middle School
When: March 9-18
Admission: $12/adults, $10/children
Encore Stage and Studio, the theatre company that presents shows by kids for kids, brings its newest production to the stage Friday evening for a two-weekend run. In this thrilling tale, the adventurous Aladdin crosses paths with the evil magician Jammal and his wicked sister Halima. Only with the help of his clever monkey, Alakazam, the crafty Princess Jasmine and, not one, but three comical genies, can Aladdin prevent his magic lamp from falling into the wrong hands. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Let Them Entertain You
Where: Various local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue
It’s showtime on stages all around the area.  P. Nokio at Imagination Stage and The Magic Flute at The Puppet Co. are both being performed for the final times this weekend. Art on the Horizon’s Out of the Box is delighting young audiences at Landmark Mall. And Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is in its second weekend at Adventure Theatre. See this post on the season’s live entertainment for details and ticket info on all of them.

Story Time with Annie Groovie
Where: Alliance Francaise
When: Saturday, 11am
Admission: $5/person (adults, too)
It’s a special story time with Annie Groovie, Quebecois author and illustrator for children. Her books feature the quirky Cyclops character Léon. In an interactive workshop with les petits, Annie will explain how she created her mischievous hero, the Cyclops Léon and show kids how to create their own hero, by helping them draw a character. RSVP: 202-234-7911

Basket Weaving
Where: The Textile Museum
When: Saturday, 2-4pm
Admission: Free
Kids can get crafty at the Textile Museum’s monthly Arts for Families program. With fabric strips and a cardboard loom, learn the basic plain weave structure while creating your own colorful placemat. Recommended for ages 5-12, no reservations required.

Paper Tigers and Folding Dinosaurs
Where: S. Dillon Ripley Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $40/1 adult, 1 child; $45/1 adult, 2 children ($10 less for members)
Kids and adults can learn how to make dinosaurs, flowers, even chessboards from paper in this origami workshop hosted by the Smithsonian Associates. Origami expert and math teacher John Montroll explains how dividing and folding paper results in recognizable objects, including insects, frogs, and other fun shapes. Workshop participants go home with paper art and instructions for creating more figures. Recommended for kids in 3rd grade and up. Register for the class here.

Super Science Saturday: Space Shuttle
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15
This week’s theme of the monthly program at the Dulles arm of the Air & Space Museum is Space Shuttle. Through demonstrations and hands-on activities, visitors of all ages will become immersed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics topics related to aviation and space exploration.

Stories in Art
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Sunday, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm
Admission: Free
Kids ages 4-7 can drop in at the National Gallery to learn how Helen Frankenthaler’s abstract paintings were inspired by landscapes, hear a related reading of A Day Without Crayons, then make a painting without using brushes. Sessions are at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in takes place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am, and continues until all spaces are filled.

Portrait Story Days: Faith Ringgold
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 1-4pm; Sunday, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the National Portrait Gallery to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art. This weekend, learn about African American artist Faith Ringgold, who is best known for her painted story quilts.

On the Outs – By the looks of this weekend’s forecast, this post with loads of ideas for weekend recreation outdoors should prove useful Go here for outdoor activities and here for indoor suggestions.

Inside TrackThis post has a big list of places to hang indoors with the kids.


Filed under All ages, Art, Class, DC, Educational, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Theatre, Weekend, Winter