Friday, April 3, 2015

Arlington National Cemetery Metro Elevators

Date of Visit: April 2, 2015

It's convenient when you only have to take one elevator to get from the train platform and street level, which is the case for both sides of the platform at Arlington National Cemetery. But since it isn't a center platform station, there are two different elevators. They are actually some of the easiest ones to find for an underground station. It isn't really that difficult to figure it out (there's a sign above call buttons) and they are very close to each other, but it would be even better if the top signs clearly labeled which platform they go to.

Destination Info:
Arlington Cemetery Metro Station
1000 North Memorial Drive
Arlington, VA 22211

Saturday, March 7, 2015

U.S. Capitol - Tour

Date of Visit: March 7, 2015

The last time we toured the Capitol as a family was probably the first time we took Mik to D.C. when he was about 3 or 4 (1997?). Of course, he doesn't remember that at all and the only thing I remember was waiting in an extremely long line outside and being pulled out of it to be given our own tour because they didn't accommodate wheelchairs with the regular tours. Everything is way different now with there being an actual visitor center, which we didn't even really visit because Mik and Mom were worn out after the touring part (regular and our own this time).

Dad had set up for the 11:20 tour, but since we got there about an hour early and Dad got passes for an earlier tour. The tour starts with a movie. You enter at the bottom of the theater and there's an elevator to the top where there's a row for wheelchairs and companions. Overall a good view of the movie, but the companion seats are kind of far back that the barrier in front ends up blocking the bottom of the screen. At first I thought it was just because I was short, but even Dad ended up noticing the issue. All it really blocks out, though, is the closed captioning, but still annoying in the sight line. Mik had no issue, though, because his wheelchair could roll up closer and also sat higher than the companion seats.

After the movie, you exit from the top of the theater and proceed to lines to join a tour group. Here you get headsets to better hear the guide when on the tour, although personally I found it unnecessary. The tour does go up and down stairs, but between each level you go over to the elevators (normally, someone escorts your group for this, I think, but since Dad works there and has a badge he was our escort).

Overall the tour isn't bad, but I'm glad we were able to then go back with Dad because I felt like you really only got to see one part of the Rotunda and crypt depending on where your guide stopped to talk about that room. Only in the Statuary Hall did it seem like you where able to really explore the whole room.

After our regular tour, Dad took us to the Hall of Columns and the Brumidi Corridors. I especially enjoyed the corridors off of the Hall of Columns, which had some really cool ceiling murals including the one below that I took by lying on the ground. I could've spent a lot more time looking at the murals and such, but Mik and Mom were getting tired, so we only briefly saw them.

Destination Info:
U.S. Capitol
East Capitol St NE & First St SE
Washington, D.C. 20004

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Date of Visit: February 14, 2015

I have been to the Newseum a few times including when it used to be in Rosslyn and the day it opened on Pennsylvania Avenue, but Mik had never been. While I knew it was a well-done museum, the tickets are kind of expensive, so it kept getting pushed down on our list to do. The opening of a temporary exhibit about Lincoln, though, quickly moved it to the top because Mik particularly likes Civil War history.

We enjoyed the whole museum and found it to be well designed to go through. It's mainly designed that you go down one level, then go to the top floor (6th), and work your way back down. There's elevators on both ends of the building (the three in the middle only go to Concourse and 6th) that make it efficient to go through the museum without backtracking much, although we did find ourselves going backwards through some exhibits.

Mik's favorite part was the Berlin Wall Gallery, which I remember as always being an impressive thing to see. He liked seeing the wall pieces and guard tower, but it was the whole experience with the videos about the wall and how news played a role in that period that really made it a history come to life kind of thing that captivated him.

It was too cold to enjoy the Greenspan Terrace from outside, but Mik did like that you could read the signs from inside (or at least you could because no one else was up to venturing outside to block them). The timeline history of the avenue is pretty interesting and with the walls of windows you can enjoy most of the great view of some of the major landmarks in D.C. from the climate controlled indoors, too.

The "President Lincoln is Dead" exhibit was another highlight. It was interesting to see the different editions of the New York Herald that provided new information as the story of Lincoln being assassinated and the hunt for Booth evolved. In particular, we found it fascinating that all editions said assassination and at that time the word only meant a secret attack and not that he was necessarily killed (in fact, he was still alive during the first couple editions). It wasn't until after Lincoln that the word became known as we think of it today.

Mostly Mik wasn't interested in the NBC News Interactive Room, but I convinced him to try out one of the touchscreen stations (they have several with no seats for wheelchairs to roll into) and he actually had fun with the trivia game.

Overall a fun museum to explore at least once, but it still is on the pricey side and not likely to go back anytime soon even though the upcoming Reporting Vietnam exhibit does appeal to Mik (kind of wished we waited for it to be open since the Lincoln one is through January 2016). Only exhibit Mik found disappointing with the FBI one, as it didn't seem to really tie in the news influence into it as well as the other exhibits.

Destination Info:

555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20001

555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., 20001 - See more at:
555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., 20001 - See more at:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

National Building Museum: Designing for Disaster

Date of Visit: February 3, 2015

The "Designing for Disaster" exhibit explores the damage of natural disasters and how to make communities more resilient to disasters. The exhibit features a variety of photos, videos, and interactive displays. Mik found this a really enjoyable exhibit, especially the parts on earthquakes and air natural disasters (hurricanes and tornadoes).

One of the first things that captured Mik's attention was in the first room they had the video of the 1989 World Series playing in which it suddenly cut out because an earthquake caused a loss of power.

Mik's favorite part was the wind tunnel interactive display in the air natural disasters section. Here you choose what type of roof and which direction to put it on the house related to where the wind would come from. Then you could press a button for the wind to be relative to a category 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 hurricane. First he hit the one. Then he went all the way to five and thought it was cool how it showed the effect of the roof blowing off. Also, he noted that it was nice that the display was designed on a table surface that he could easy roll under to use.

This exhibit is on display through August 2, 2015.

Destination Info:
National Building Museum
401 F St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Accessibility Note:  The accessible entrance to the museum is G Street. The Judiciary Square Metro (Red) is the closest, but since we live near Yellow Line we find the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro (Yellow/Green/Red) more convenient as it is faster/easier to just walk/roll an extra block or so than transferring to Red Line for one stop. More details in our first review of the museum here.

Our Other Current National Building Museum Exhibit Posts

National Building Museum: HOT TO COLD an odyssey of architectural adaptation

Date of Visit: February 3, 2015

The "HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation" exhibit features over 60 architectural models suspended from the balconies of the Great Hall. As the Great Hall area is open to the public, you can view most of the exhibit without paying admission. With admission, though, you can go into the second floor gallery that includes more models and videos.

The exhibit is mainly experienced walking around the 2nd floor balcony, but from the first floor you can also look up and see symbols and colors on the bottom that reflect how they represent locales from hot to cold climates.

Mik enjoyed checking out the various models. Of most interest to him was the Phoenix Observation Tower (i.e. Big Pin), which is proposed for near Chase Field. I thought it was absurd, but he thinks it could be a cool way to watch a baseball game (seems too high a view for that).

The Smithsonian South Mall campus plan and St. Petersburg Pier idea were some of our other favorite models.

This exhibit is on display through August 15, 2015.

Destination Info:
National Building Museum
401 F St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Accessibility Note:  The accessible entrance to the museum is G Street. The Judiciary Square Metro (Red) is the closest, but since we live near Yellow Line we find the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro (Yellow/Green/Red) more convenient as it is faster/easier to just walk/roll an extra block or so than transferring to Red Line for one stop. More details in our first review of the museum here.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

National Museum of Natural History: Orchids Interlocking Science and Beauty Exhibit

Date of Visit: January 25, 2015

The "Orchids: Interlocking Science and Beauty" is a special exhibit that opened yesterday at the National Museum of Natural History. The exhibit is located on the 1st floor and while it is quite small, it was definitely worth a visit.

Mik especially enjoyed seeing the different colors and styles of orchids on display. It was also interesting to learn about the history of collecting and transporting orchids, which began in the Victorian era.

Destination Info:

National Museum of Natural History
10th St and Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC

Accessibility Note: The accessible entrance to the museum is on the Constitution Avenue side of the building. The Smithsonian Metro is usually recommended for the museum; but we find Federal Triangle (Blue, Orange, Silver) and Archives (Yellow, Green) to be closer or just as convenient since the elevator exit for Smithsonian is on opposite side of the National Mall.

Our Other Current National Museum of Natural History Exhibits Posts

Thursday, January 15, 2015

National Museum of the American Indian

Date of Visit: January 15, 2015

We've been meaning to visit the National Museum of the American Indian ever since the Nation to Nation exhibit on treaties opened back in September. Waiting until now worked out well, though, as a new temporary exhibit opened this week ("Commemorating Controversy: The Dakota—U.S. War of 1862") and we still got to see the first treaty on display before they switch it out next month.

Since the last time we visited this museum was back in 2006, we ended up wandering through most of the museum. Most of our time was spent in the "Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations" exhibit, but by the end Mik said it seemed too repetitive. I guess to some extent it kind of was with it being making the treaties and then how they were broken or honored with each panel given the perspective from both sides. Mostly, though, I think it was more that he got overwhelmed with information because it covered quite a bit.

Mik's favorite parts of the museum were the displays in the atrium near the elevators on the 4th and 3rd floor. Most interesting to him was the interactive touch screens for the Window on the Collection Exhibitions, which allowed him to get a close up look at the artifacts on display. The ones on the 4th floor (pictured above) were a little tough for him to get up to and use, but once he figured out a good position he spent quite a bit of time using it. The ones on the 3rd floor are slightly different in set up and were easier for him to use.

He also liked the little question and answer displays interactive turning displays that were related to the Nation to Nation exhibit.

He enjoyed watching some of the videos in the Our Universes exhibit. However, some of them were on small low screens in front of a high backed bench, which while architecturally cool they made it impossible to view them well because there was no good angle to roll close enough for him to get a decent view of the screen.

Other than the issue with the design of the screens and benches in the Our Universe exhibit the museum is a good very modern accessible conscious designed museum. This includes button activated automatic doors to enter the building and companion bathrooms at least on the third and fourth floor. Of course, there are also elevators, which Mik was quick to say we had to take a picture of to add to photos of cool elevators we've encountered. The elevators are also nice and large, although the call buttons by each are almost too well blended with the decor/architectural design.

Destination Info:

National Museum of the American Indian
4th St & Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC