Museum Adventures with a Toddler

With the holiday weekend, and the AMAZING weather (snow days are amazing, but I’ll take this mid-60s and sunny weather any day!) we set out to take our LO to an educational pre-nap outing.  For some time now, we have been wanting to introduce her to the world of Smithsonian’s – specifically the National Museum of Natural History. If you aren’t familiar with this museum, it is filled with amazing exhibits about various aspects of the natural world around us. There is a gem and mineral section, an ocean life wing, large mammals, insects – just to name a few. The real draw for this visit was the butterfly and plant exhibit on the 2nd floor in the insect wing. Admission for adults is $6 children under the age of 2 are free. If you happen to be in DC and available on Tuesdays, admission is completely free to this exhibit.

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Once you buy your tickets, you are given a time slot (usually about 10-15 from time of purchase) that you will be allowed to enter the butterfly house. Upon entry, you go into a holding room where a Smithsonian employee explains a few ground rules about the exhibit. When you enter the butterfly house, you have to keep your eyes open and walk slow. It is the butterflies house, not yours, and they treat it as such. These beauties of small and grand sizes fly EVERYWHERE. You will find some resting on the walk ways, ledges, walls, and even ceilings. Our LO LOVED this exhibit. She was completely enthralled with all of the gorgeous butterflies flying around her. If you get a chance to visit, I highly recommend stopping by the butterfly house at the National Museum of Natural History in DC.

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After our time with the butterflies, we decided to take advantage of some extra time before nap time, and ventured through a few other exhibits. At first we tried to show her the gems and minerals. After about 5 minutes of being sandwiched between 200 of our closest friends, we decided that while this exhibit is fascinating and enriching, might not be best suited for our drive-by museum visit. Instead, we walked through the mammal exhibits. There, she was able to engage with what she was seeing without us having to stop and read the blurbs. Quick as it was, we opened her eyes to the amazing world of museums, specifically the amazing Smithsonian’s that live in our backyard. If you are lucky to live nearby, don’t worry so much about cramming EVERY exhibit into one visit. Instead, pick a few highlights that you think will engage your LO. As they get older, the luster of these places won’t wear off as each time could be a new experience, reading the informational blurbs, watching the short films, and perusing the different exhibits.

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