National Cherry Blossom Festival:
A tradition for more than 100 years, the blossoming of the Japanese cherry trees in Washington, D.C. is a reminder of the beauty of the season and a popular time for tourism in our nation’s capital. Typically, this time of year, an estimated 1.5 million people flock to see the blossoming cherry trees, a spectacular gift of friendship from the People of Japan to the People of the United States. According to the National Park Foundation, the cherry trees are “equated with the evanescence of human life, the beauty of the pale blossoms epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.”
This year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has been shifted to a virtual experience so that the celebration can continue. This affords a great opportunity for us out-of-towners and socially-distancing to enjoy the festivities from home.
We’ll start our field trip with a virtual tour of the Tidal Basin and peak bloom of the trees with a knowledgeable and friendly tour guide from the National Park Service. This 3-minute video experience is a compilation of stunning video of the National Mall, including the Washington Monument, and the 3,700 beautiful cherry trees blooming in their full glory. This engaging experience is appropriate for all ages. Those who would like to see a different vantage point can take a peek via Google Earth.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History:
Just steps away, the world-famous Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History was built in 1912 on the National Mall. This was one of the first Smithsonian buildings constructed to house our national collections and one of the first neoclassical buildings to be built on the mall. With more than 145,000 specimens, it is the largest natural history collection in the world. This national treasure is the most visited natural history museum in the world and is home to the world’s largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of natural and cultural history.
Here are two great ways to experience the museum from home. Both options offer ways to customize your experience and go at your own pace. These experiences are appropriate for all ages to explore together or to explore individually.
This virtual walking tour is a video with ambient sound (no narration). The viewer is made to feel as if you are walking through the museum. The video is just under 23 minutes long. You can speed up the video and pause on the things that are of interest. Dinosaur lovers will be thrilled, as this tour features the renovated Hall of Fossils – Deep Time, which opened last summer after a five-year renovation and features a collection of 46 complete dinosaur specimens. A Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is featured alongside more than 700 specimens from the prehistoric era.
Interactive museum tour:
The National Museum of Natural History’s virtual experiences are self-guided, room-by-room tours of permanent, current, and past exhibits.
Pro tip: Click on the interactive map to jump from one gallery to another
- The “Nation’s T. rex” discovered in 1988 by an amateur fossil hunter Kathy Wenkel
- The supposedly cursed 45.52-carat Hope Diamond
- Henry, the museum’s iconic 14-foot-tall, 12-ton African elephant that made its debut in 1959 and greets visitors in the rotunda
More to Explore:
- Smithsonian Educational Resources A new view of T. rex
- How a Giant T. rex Packs for a Road Trip National Geographic (3-min video)
- The arrival of the Nation’s T. rex (3-min video) — We can’t stop singing the catchy song at the end!
Thank you for taking a virtual field trip with us. At the Connecticut Science Center, we love providing in-person, hands-on experiences. When that’s not possible, it’s nice to know that you don’t need a permission slip — or to even leave home — to explore the beauty and science in the world around us. We’re looking forward to seeing you in person.
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Tracy Shirer is the Director of Marketing & PR at the Connecticut Science Center. She is passionate about building a community of learners, educators, and supporters by providing fantastic experiences, lasting memories, and opportunities for access. She is a media expert and has worked in entertainment, sports, and destination marketing with top brands. A mom to a 9-year-old, she is invigorated and driven by the Science Center’s mission and the impact in our community.