This post is the last in my three-part summary of my visit to some of the Smithsonian institutions in Washington, D.C. This one will cover my visits to the Natural History Museum, the Renwick Gallery, and the Sackler Gallery.

Natural History Museum

The taxodermied elephant in the lobby of the Natural History Museum.

I’ve been to the Natural History Museum before. In general,  I tend to like natural history museums. I arrived early — almost as soon as the museum opened — which was great: no swarms of kids everywhere!

I started by buying a ticket for an IMAX movie. The tickets seemed fairly cheap, and I figured it was a good way to get out of the heat. Then I started wondering around the museum to kill the hour or so until my movie started.

I began upstairs by looking at the Hope Diamond, which has never really interested me. This time was no exception. But I enjoy looking at the other jewels in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. I especially liked the Elbaite gemstones:

The combination of the colors in one gemstone were really lovely! This was another case of gems that I liked:

I also enjoyed the dinosaur exhibits and the bones exhibits. This one in particular got my attention:

I thought live snakes were creepy — these skeletons are even worse!

The IMAX movie I saw was called Born to Be Wild. It’s about two women who have dedicated their lives to saving orphaned elephants in Africa and orphaned orangutans in Borneo. Here’s the trailer:

This is a beautiful, captivating film. First off, Morgan Freeman was born to narrate wildlife movies. His voice automatically puts the audience at easy and takes us on the emotional journey of the story.

I also thought the narrative of the movie was effective and moving. I actually got teary-eyed at one point in the movie (a happy moment of elephants reuniting). It’s a great movie and I highly recommend it.

The Renwick Gallery

The Renwick Gallery exhibits American contemporary crafts and decorative arts from the 19th to the 21st centuries. It’s a relatively small museum but well worth the walk over — it’s on the other side of the White House from the main Smithsonian museums.

One of my favorite pieces on display was “Game Fish” (1988) by Larry Fuente.

There’s also an exhibit of paintings from the Smithsonian American Art Museum that are interesting.

Sackler Gallery

The Sackler Gallery features Asian art. It’s connected to both the African Art Museum and the Freer Gallery, and features the Smithsonian’s largest collection of Asian art, even though the museum itself isn’t very large. This is a beautiful museum, one of favorites of all the Smithsonian institutions.

Here are a few of the works I struck my fancy:

A dish from northern Thailand (15th-16th century)

A gourd-shaped bottle in the form of a worshiper from Cambodia or northern Thailand (11th - 12th century)

A bronze horse from Han dynasty China (c. 206 BC - AD 220)

There were several more works that I loved here. It also has a very strong Japanese exhibit and several Buddhas. I loved this museum, and the gift shop is great — I bought a $25 Ganesha for my collection.

Spending a few days visiting all of these museums was a great little vacation — and each of the museums is free!

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