Frankly, this museum was a bit of a disappointment. Could it have been the weird colored lights, corrugated steel and cyclone fence backdrops (all of which I have edited out) in the dinosaur hall? Or could it have been the bare, modernized exhibits in the Hall of Mammals where the jungle animals are hanging from stainless steel pipes? Or could it have been the hundreds of middle-school-aged visitors with their running, shouting, and rude behavior?
Probably a little of both.
Here is an example of the modernization. This elephant used to be displayed on a realistic, landscaped mound which helped to draw the visitor into its environment. Now it crowns a smaller stripped-down platform which the museum "reimagined" back in 2015.
They even bragged about it on their website. I'll let you judge for yourself, but I guess I'm old-fashioned because I prefer the diorama effect.
In the Gems and Minerals Exhibit I learned that we had sailed right by the source of much of the sandstone used to build the White House and the Capitol. Up the Aquia Creek, less than 40 miles from here, is the quarry where that sandstone was obtained. Because it is soft and prone to erosion, it is no longer used outdoors and the quarry (now called Government Island) is a nature park.
I also enjoyed seeing the gemstones including the famous Hope Diamond. Which is impossible to photograph. (See paragraph one)
So I guess I'm turning into a grouchy old lady, aren't I? Complaining about noisy kids and modernized exhibits. Yearning for the old days when children were quiet, natural history museums were realistic, and my knees didn't complain about stairs....