National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is, most likely, one of the most popular museums in Washington, DC. Not only does the museum address the political history of the United States, it also shows the cultural history. What other building would house both Abraham Lincoln's top hat and Kermit the Frog?

I was really looking forward to this part of our trip. This was my favorite museum as a child and I couldn't wait to share it with my daughter. Unfortunately, the museum has changed a great deal since my childhood. The pop culture exhibit has been reduced to an extraordinarily small room, which makes it difficult to see most of the pieces thanks to the tons of people that need to have their pictures taken with them. I appreciate the fact that people want something to help them remember Brian Boitano's skates but, seriously, there are thousands of people trying to get through this small room. MOVE.

Another problem area is the First Ladies' dresses. The room is large enough to handle a decent sized crowd, yet too many people insist on taking pictures. (NOTE: Flash + Glass = A picture of a bright light.) Thankfully, the inauguration dresses are kept in a separate exhibit, which is much larger and easier to navigate. This was my daughter's favorite exhibit.

While we were there, a large exhibit dedicated to Abraham Lincoln took up a lot of the space. This segued into a rather morbid display on presidential assasinations. Eventually, you end up in a collection of memorabilia from the presidents' children. My daughter liked that area as well.

Overall, I found the museum lacking. We all still had a decent time there but I think it would have been better with the larger pop culture exhibit and less about the deaths of past presidents. (I don't know that we really needed a funeral carriage in the center of the room by itself. Many more displays could have fit in there.) I suppose my biggest complaint is the bad use of the space. Exhibits that could be in a small area are put in huge rooms while popular pieces are stuck in small corners for people to try to wedge their way in to see. Still, this museum is a must see if you are in DC.