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Smithsonian National Museum of African Art: New Eyes on the Old World

national-museum-african-artby Howard Clemens

Visit one of the most popular museums in Washington DC and provide for your students a window into the cradle of civilization. First Lady Michelle Obama recently said, “Learning through the arts reinforces critical academic skills . . . and provides students with the skills to creatively solve problems.”

Take student travel groups on docent-led tours of the permanent and visiting and traveling exhibitions, or let them hook into an audio device and tour on their own. The museum website has easy access forms to plan your visit for both tours and museum staff-led workshops. Specific tours – such as the Jambo tour – will be tailored to elementary, junior high or high school curricular needs.

Permanent Exhibits at the National Museum of African Art in D.C.
The National Museum of African Art is often missed by student groups visiting Washington D.C., yet it contains one of the most staggering collections of African art on display in the world. Touring the museum will complement many types of African studies in literature, the arts, politics, and more. This museum is an excellent way to incorporate diversity into any student tour of Washington D.C. and just about any curriculum.

Extensive African Photographs Available for Viewing by Student Groups
At the Museum, student travel groups will find over 350,000 items on display in the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, and that’s just one small portion of the Museum. Here students may also become familiar with the large number of African mosaics on display as well as rare sub-Saharan art on permanent loan from the Walt Disney-Tishman collection. In 2005 the Disney Foundation gave the museum 525 pieces of African art that includes a beautiful 19th century female figure carved from ivory. Since the 1960’s, this particular collection has greatly influenced the study of African art.

Artistic Dialogues Between African and African Diaspora in America
Also on display until January of 2016 is the Conversations exhibit where African art and artists are in conversation with African American art and artists. These contributions help celebrate the museum’s 50th anniversary, providing fruitful dialogue between Africa and the African diaspora. A few of the topics as part of the Conversations exhibit include “Spirituality, Power and Politics, Nature as Metaphor, and the popular Music and Urban Culture.”

Special Exhibitions
There is a special exhibition for the museum’s anniversary called “Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean.” The dance and music of the Omani people from East Africa are celebrated. The Al Najoom Dance Troupe is one of the most talented dance groups of Oman and they have been performing for over fifteen years, telling audiences the rich history of their culture through movement and sound. The dances they share are used for religious ceremony as well as everyday life.

Maya Angelou’s Legacy is Celebrated by Museum
The Smithsonian’s mission statement is, “To inspire conversations about the beauty, power, and diversity of African arts and culture worldwide.” The recent death of African American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has been on the minds of museum curators and staff. Not long before her death the poet had a public conversation with the museum director Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole. You can view that conversation online at this link: http://youtu.be/e8S-mNq3ypg

Online Resources for Student Tour Leaders Preparing to Go to D.C.
Students and faculty can enjoy glimpses at the permanent collection and peek at upcoming traveling exhibitions online at this link: http://africa.si.edu. At the bottom right corner of the Home Page look for the “Radio Africa” link. Students can listen to this 24-hour radio program curated by the museum staff, sampling music from every corner of the African continent. Contact a student travel professional to arrange student group docent-led tours, or signup the class for workshops like the quilt collage workshop. There are also online galleries of student artwork made in the museum workshops or back at home in the classroom after returning from the museum tour.

The National Museum of African Art originally opened its doors with the help of Warren Robbins in June of 1964 in a townhouse that was the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Today it stands a world-class museum with visitors from every corner of the globe, helping place Africa at the center of conversation on the origins of humanity. On display until September, 2015 is a commemorative exhibition: Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria. These historic photographs did a marvelous job documenting the rituals and regalia of the court for more than fifty years, and provide a historical record of studio photography in West Africa. There has never been a better time to bring the class to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

For more information on creating a student travel itinerary of Washington D.C. that includes a visit to the National Museum of African Art, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Popular Smithsonian Museum for Student Travel Groups: National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. is a popular place for student travel groups to visit.

One of the most popular stops on a student tour of Washington D.C. is the National Air and Space Museum, part of the Smithsonian Museums.  The Smithsonian Museum is so vast it would be a huge challenge to construct a student group tour of each museum on just a four to five day visit. So, educators and student trip leaders need to be selective about which Smithsonian Museum fit best with curricular objectives.  For science, history and social studies students who want to be exposed to the evolution of air and space travel – the National Air and Space Museum is a winning choice.  Students learn through contemporary interactive exhibits designed to keep their attention.

This overview of the National Air and Space Museum will highlight major parts of it. This is a great snapshot of the Museum’s offerings, so student trip leaders can plan on which places in the Museum and exhibits to include in their visit beforehand.  Social studies, history and science teachers may be interested in using educational materials found on the website to prepare students in advance of a student trip to Washington D.C. Visit the Explore and Learn section of the National Air and Space Museum website to download classroom materials.

National Air and Space Museum Exhibits
There are so many exhibits to choose from at the Museum in Washington D.C. Some historical exhibits include: Early Flight, Apollo to the Moon and the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery.  Exhibits that showcase contemporary technology developed by scientists include:  Lunar Exploration Vehicles, Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Moving Beyond Earth. These are just a sampling of a long list of extraordinary topics related to air and space.

For history students, a focus on specific periods may work best. Many students study the major U.S. conflicts. See World War I; the Pre-1920 Aviation exhibit, which covers this era; and, World War II Aviation spans the 1930s and 1940s.  One of the most popular exhibits at the Museum is Spirit & Opportunity: 10 Years Roving Across Mars.  This particular exhibit focuses on notable accomplishments of two Mars Rovers and is on exhibit through September 14, 2014.  Learn more about other exhibits by visiting:  http://www.airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/mer/.

Albert Einstein Planetarium
Student groups may have time to catch a show at the Planetarium.  Shows last only 25 minutes.  Choose from Journey to the Stars, Undiscovered Worlds and What’s New in Space Science. All movies are scheduled at different times during the day, usually in half hour increments. So when student groups visit they may be able to work one movie in.

Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater

Viewing a show at the IMAX Theater at the National Air and Space Museum will cost extra for the students and chaperones in the group, but it’s well worth $7.50-10 fee.  IMAX films are as close to re-creation of reality as possible, heightening sight, sound,  and vision for the spectator.  Choose an IMAX movie that parallels nicely with classroom activities. These include:  Air Racers 3D (Watch Reno Air Races from a pilot’s view), Hubble 3D (Astronauts on a mission to save the Hubble Space Telescope), The Dream is Alive (Space Shuttle simulations), and To Fly! (A journey through the history of flight).

Public Observatory
On a group visit to the National Air and Space Museum, try to schedule enough time for students to visit the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory.  Access to the Observatory is through the East Terrace.  Hours are 12-3 p.m. Wednesday thorough Sunday, weather permitting, so there is a small window of opportunity. The reward is that on clear days students can observe the sun, the moon, and phases of Venus, as well as other sights and phenomenon.

For those interested in the development of aircraft and air travel and space exploration, a visit to the National Air and Space Museum is probably the most comprehensive view of the history of U.S. technological advances over the past century – and into the future. This is the type of Museum most students, teachers and chaperones can get excited about visiting.  To plan a student trip to Washington D.C. that includes the National Air and Space Museum, visit Educational Travel Consultants website.

Library of Congress: an Essential Part of Student Trips to Washington D.C.

by Howard Clemens

A student trip to Washington D.C. would be incomplete without a tour of the greatest library on Earth. The Library of Congress in Washington DC first opened its doors in 1800. Ever since then the library has been working hard to serve the Congress and the American people, not only as an invaluable library for the Congress, but to further the creativity of the nation. Besides providing a congressional research service, the library also hosts the American Folklife Center, the American Memory project, the Center for the Book, as well as the Poet Laureate.

When the British attempted to destroy the library in 1814 by burning the capitol and pillaging the thousands of bookshelves, retired president Thomas Jefferson offered his own personal library as replacement. Jefferson was said to have the finest library in the United States at the time, and in 1815 congress accepted his nearly 6,500 books. History, philosophy, literature, and fine arts books made up the Jefferson collection. The Jefferson Building was built after ratifying all published materials should have two copies sent to the library.

Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, Washington D.C.

Exhibitions at the Library of Congress

Exhibitions currently running include The Civil War in America. There are 200 unique items on display, including many on display for the first time. Teachers can encourage students to read and comment on an ongoing blog of Civil War Voices available on the Library of Congress website. Also newly on display is Abel Buell’s map of the United States. There were only seven copies made in 1784 of the newly independent nation, having broken away from England. There is a copy of the original map on display at the library, not to be missed! There is also a copy of the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on display, something everyone will want to see and talk about!

History of U.S. Science, Technology and Business in Library of Congress

There is a remarkable collection of prints, photos and recordings on American science, technology and business, from extremely rare paintings of birds by John James Audubon to Sigmund Freud’s letters. There is also an exhibit on the 100th birthday of the Harley Davidson motorcycle, and the inventions of the telephone and dreams of flight becoming a reality. The establishment of Yosemite National Park and other land conservation initiatives are also part of the collection, including details on the evolution of the conservation movement from 1850 to 1920.

Besides the amazing array of American scientific and historical maps, letters, photos and objects on display, there is also a very large collection documenting the performing arts including theater, music and dance at the library. Photographs, music scores and recordings are housed at the library, including American Yiddish sheet music currently on exhibition from the Irene Heskes collection. Much of this collection originates from the Lower East Side and Bowery of New York City from 1880 to the mid twentieth century.

Student Travel To DC: Viewing America in Retrospect

Another popular exhibit is “100 Years Ago Today,” where newspapers from 100 years ago are displayed from the very date of the student group’s visit. For instance student groups can view papers like The Washington Herald, The Amarillo Daily News, and The Tombstone Epitaph. It is fascinating to see what was going on exactly a century ago when visiting the Library of Congress. A century of newspapers from every corner of the United States are on display, such as The Salt Lake Tribune and the Tulsa Daily World.

From the history of advertising to American literature and culture – many subjects can be explored at the Library of Congress, an essential stop on any student tour of Washington DC. Other topics for social studies and history students include: wars, religions, immigration documents and the great American Expansion. The history of Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and the history of Native Americans can be found, read, studied, and explored at Library of Congress, too. From little towns to big cities, the United States has done one of the best jobs the world has ever seen in documenting a nation’s history and culture.

Learn more about student travel to Washington D.C. visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Smithsonian Will Open National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall

by Howard Clemens

The new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will open on the National Mall in D.C. in 2015

A new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), a branch of the Smithsonian, is under construction in a prominent location near the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

Doors of the new museum are scheduled to open in 2015. Until then, school groups on trips to D.C. can see the “Changing America” exhibition across the street at the National Museum of American History. This new exhibit looks at the century of hard work between the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington. Students studying the anti slavery and civil rights movements will find this directly related to their curriculum. A short visit to this exhibit will be a great way to learn about some of the people and events that defined these eras in American history.

Architects Philip Freelon and David Adjaye are seeing their dream building come together right on the Mall in Washington D.C. There have been generous donations from many groups and individuals, including Oprah Winfrey – who recently gave the NMAAHC a much-needed twelve million dollar donation for their museum construction project. This will be an institution dedicated to helping all Americans see the great importance of African American history to the nation as a whole. Equally as important, the NMAAHC will make clear how the stories and histories of African Americans helped shape the struggles for freedom around the world.

The NMAAHC website has detailed information about the progress of the construction of the NMAAHC with several short documentary films, one of which shows a 3D digital model of the proposed final structure.

An interior rendition of the NMAAHC when it opens in 2015.

The NMAAHC project is innovative because of its approach to using the Web to gather archival material. Students and teachers can check the website for information on how to help preserve African American artifacts, from furniture to personal items to books. There are programs available for preserving photographs, paper documents, and also clothing and textiles. In the classroom, students can view video interviews with such prominent African American citizens as United States District Court judge Matthew J. Perry Jr. and Lawrence Guyot.

For those student travel groups and group leaders who are curious to see the project unfolding, The NMAAHC website has a construction camera with an ongoing series of snapshots of up-to-date footage of the Museum’s construction. The Washington Monument is right next door to the site of the future NMAAHC – within walking distance.

Students interested in pursuing a career in Museum work may want to explore the many internship jobs available with the NMAAHC. There are currently internship projects with the cataloging department, the collection preservation department, as well as curatorial, education and exhibition display. Students in the classroom can also be part of bringing together the many facets of this museum by helping to find and catalogue archival materials.

Some of the highlights of the museum include historical documents such as texts and photos and even implements such as shackles used during the dark age of American slavery. There are galleries also devoted to music and performing arts, as well as visual art by and about African Americans including the Harlem Renaissance through the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as well as contemporary African American artists of today.

The website gives visitors insight into upcoming exhibits for the NMAAHC. Samples of the Black Fashion Museum Collection, originally founded in 1979 by Lois K. Alexander Lane are available on the website. This collection includes bonnets worn by slaves as well as opera capes. There are also beautiful gowns made by African American fashion designer Ann Lowe, whose patrons included the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Duponts, and also former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Students studying slavery in the United States will also be interested in viewing the Harriet Tubman Collection, dedicated to the magnificent dedication of the woman who herself ran away from slavery as a young girl in the early 1800s. There are nearly 100 artifacts belonging to Harriet Tubman that will be on display, and some of those are currently shown in photographs on the NMAAHC website. Tubman’s fearless hard work on the Underground Railroad changed the lives of hundreds of people. She and others help make this one of the most extraordinary museum experiences on the Mall in Washington D.C.

Student trips headed to Washington D.C. will definitely want to plan a visit to the website prior to their visit – and schedule an actual visit to the museum itself in 2015. In the meantime, seeing the National Museum of American History “Changing America” exhibit is highly recommended. Learn more about black history tours of Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington D.C. These student tours are designed to create a broader understanding of the history of slavery, emancipation and civil rights in the United States.

Learn more about black history tours of Washington D.C., designed for students studying the anti-slavery movement of the 19th Century and the Civil Rights movement of the 20th Century.

Lessons of History and Freedom: Student Trip to Washington, DC is Enlightening and Eye-Opening for Students

By Howard Clemens

Recently, teacher Brynley Martin, who has taught eighth grade English Literature and history at Oak Hill Jr. High School for twelve years, took her students on a tour of Washington, DC. It’s a trip her classes make every year, and one that new students look forward to and former ones always remember fondly.  When students travel to Washington D.C., they get to immerse themselves in their fields of study in ways that go far beyond requisite classroom discussion and research.

This particular student tour covers a wide range, from cornerstones like the National Archives (in which the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence are housed) to the many exhibits in the Smithsonian, like the American History and Air and Space Museums. This student travel group also visited Mount Vernon, the plantation of George Washington and landmark of the Revolutionary War.  It was important to Martin that the students also take a close look at the Holocaust Museum—an experience many students have described as profound and life-changing.

I recently interviewed Brynley Martin about her most recent class trip from Converse, Indiana to Washington D.C.

Q: What is your official title at Oak Hill Jr. High School?

A: I am an eighth grade English and Literature teacher.

Q: How often do you take your students on tour in Washington D.C.?

A: This will be my seventh year. The tours have been great, and every one of them is different.  Every student group is composed of students who are seeing and assimilating these sites for the first time.

Q: Have you toured other cities in the US?

A: No, just Washington D.C. so far.

Q: Washington is a city that’s critical for an understanding of U.S. History. How does the tour of DC tie into the class you teach? What specific parts of American history are covered?

A:  We dedicate nine weeks in literature class to the study of the Holocaust. We visit The Holocaust Museum to supplement our studies and to understand the real stories of people who suffered and died in it.  This puts a greater emphasis on what we’ve learned. We also study the origins of the U.S., from the Revolutionary up to the Civil War.

Q: The Newseum is a museum dedicated to news and media in American culture. This ties directly into written and spoken language in English, and the ways it’s used to communicate information. Can you comment on student’s reactions to visiting it?

A: On previous trips, we hadn’t had time to really check things out. But the students loved it. There’s so much stuff to see there, something for everyone.

Q: Your class visited the National Archives. What specifically did you want your students to see there?

A: Specifically, the Declaration of Independence, which is sometimes not the easiest thing to see because the lines are so long. It was great for them to be able to see it in detail during this last trip.

Q: How was your trip to the Holocaust Museum?

A: We always request the full tour there. It is very important to our trip, and the kids are moved by it. They get to learn about the Holocaust through more than just books, which always affects them in profound and significant ways.

Q: Describe any post-trip writing or speaking students were required to perform to assimilate their experiences.

A: All students bring a disposable camera on the trip. They use their photos to create a comprehensive and individual project about their own experience. They present this project to the rest of the class, through the lens of their own point of view.

Q: How long have you been doing these tours? What has been your experience with the tour guides and other staff?

A: I think we’ve been traveling for six years now. The tour guides have been awesome! They are very knowledgeable about Washington D.C. and have always worked well with us to solve any problems that might come up. It’s been a great experience, overall.

Diversity of Impressions and Increased Appreciation of History: Something for Every Student Trip

Every student will take something personal away with them from the trip, while also gaining a greater understanding of history and the way language is used to make and change it. Exposing students to places like the Holocaust Museum is instrumental in promoting an understanding of the ethical responsibilities of history. Up close and personal exposure to exhibits housed in the National Archives and the Smithsonian can provide a fresh and vital perspective for learning. All these make for a uniquely visceral experience that serve to broaden and enhance classroom studies in essential and innovative ways. Martin feels that these trips to Washington D.C. positively impact her students, and broaden their appreciation and knowledge of their studies, so she will continue to take groups on tour.

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Student Travel Groups Heading to Washington D.C.: What’s New?

For teachers seeking to provide their students with an invigorating, immersive, and comprehensive exposure to art, culture, history, and just about anything else, Washington D.C. is the place to be.  A student trip to Washington D.C. is one of the gold standards of educational travel. Student travel groups have a range of famous landmarks at their fingertips, from Ford’s Theater to Arlington National Cemetery to the Library of Congress to the quaint hustle and bustle of Georgetown. There is something for everyone in this great city, and its liveliness makes for a one-of-a-kind experience that makes learning fun, exciting, and revelatory.

For students studying history, the city is nothing short of an invaluable resource.  Seeing everything could take weeks. For student tour groups on limited schedules, a focused itinerary for a three or four day tour works best.

The list of sites to see is growing now that Washington D.C. has added some new war memorials, a site dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a branch of the Smithsonian that focuses on African American History. Students who visit these places will gain a broader understanding of American history.

The World War II Memorial, on 17th Street between Constitution and Independence Avenues, is surrounded by the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and combines beautiful architecture with many moving testaments to those who participated in one of the 20th century’s greatest epochs. At the crossroads of these three great attractions, students will get an acute and unforgettable sense of the nation’s past. Featuring the famous “Rainbow Pool” and an its mingling fountains, the memorial is open from 9 am until 11:45 pm, and the National Park Service provides guided tours every hour, on the hour, from 10 am -11pm. Teachers can search the computerized World War II registry for information, and use the material to prepare students for this trip with advance lessons in the classroom.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, at 1964 Independence Avenue on the National Mall is a special address because the street number refers to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The MLK Memorial is a highly unique structure designed, like all of Washington’s memorials, to draw the spectator into a uniquely “hands-on” historical experience. Students can stroll the grounds, which are flanked by an abundance of cherry blossom trees and crepe myrtles, and read stone-etched inscriptions from the “I Have a Dream” speech.  The statue of Dr King itself, as massive and awe-inspiring as the Lincoln Memorial, is almost Egyptian/Sphinxlike in scope.  Visiting this new memorial to an American dedicated to the advancement of civil rights is a must for any group studying African American history and its historical and contemporary impact on the world we live in.

On the same topic, the Smithsonian Museum of African Natural History just had its groundbreaking ceremony in February of 2012, and is scheduled to officially open in 2013. The Museum of African Natural History has exhibits that are presently housed on the second floor of the National Museum of American History. From their current exhibition, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” to their upcoming show, ”The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963” (slated to debut in December 2012), the Museum provides a comprehensive and essential overview of African American life down through the generations, from music to sports to arts and politics. Many have been anticipating the opening of this new Smithsonian Museum where African American culture and tradition is highlighted.

Like New York City, Washington D.C. is a city that can be regarded as one of “the crossroads of the world.” There is no end to the varieties of experiences here, whether a student group is touring its many ethnic neighborhoods, dining at a variety of wonderful restaurants, touring the museums, memorials or the Capital and White House, or just steeping themselves in its atmosphere and energy in general. Teachers and student groups have loved the U.S. Capital city for all of its history, government, culture, dining and entertainment and it’s splendid architecture and memorials.

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An Educational Tour of Washington D.C. Designed for Junior ROTC or Social Studies Students

Washington D.C. has a great deal to offer for student tours of the city and surrounding area. In fact, there are so many different choices, that student travel trip coordinators might just become overwhelmed. Choosing a qualified and experienced student travel company can certainly help focus a trip and align it with curricular objectives.

Over the years I have developed many different types of trips that tie into a variety of curriculums such as art, history, government, performance tours, science, and more. I have designed a school trip for middle school students and JROTC students studying major U.S. conflicts of the 20th Century.  This educational tour helps students take a closer look at the Vietnam and Korean Wars as well as World War II.  Student travel groups visit sites in Washington D.C. which are directly related to these conflicts. I have organized these tours around the themes of sacrifice and conflict.

Depending upon time allowance, student groups may also plan to visit the main destinations for any educational tour of Washington D.C. The selection of sites might also include a visit to the White House, Capitol Building, Smithsonian Museum, and popular choices for dining, entertainment, and shopping.

Following are my suggestions for destinations for Social Studies and or JROTC students who are studying modern wars:

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam conflict was one of the most politicized events of the 20th Century.  Students studying it will want to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The names of soldiers who died in this conflict are embedded in the wall for all to remember.  On any given day, student groups may see families and loved ones of fallen soldiers honoring their loss with flowers, vigils, personal memorabilia, and more.  Groups visiting the wall may want to opt for the ranger guided interpretive tour, where stories about individual soldiers and units are recounted, as well as a brief history of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial was opened to the public in 1995 and dedicated by President Bill Clinton and President Kim Young Sam.  Nearby the wall of pictures and names, there are 19 stainless steel statues of soldiers, representing all four branches of the military and from diverse backgrounds. The statues of infantryman and medical personnel appear to be walking in the same proximity as the wall and even emerge from the nearby woods.   The mural displays 2,400 photographs from the Korean War obtained from the National Archives.  Visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial, students gain a more in depth perspective of this War and its impact on Korean and American life.

Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum is a must see for anyone studying World War II.  It details the systematic, bureaucratic killing of Jews, Russians, Poles, Communists, homosexuals, disabled people and others who were targeted by the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s in Europe.  Students will learn about the Holocaust by viewing historical film footage, artifacts, photographs, and listening to stories recorded by survivors and witnesses. Much of the material in this museum is difficult to contemplate. The events of the holocaust have been well-documented in history books, biographies, fiction and non-fiction. Various texts can be studied alongside a visit to the Museum.   Yet there is really no substitute for the up-close, visual viewpoint provided by the Holocaust Museum which gives a student an even broader perspective and context in which to study this atrocity.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is just outside of Washington D.C. in the Northern Virginia town of Arlington, and is well worth the visit. These burial grounds are the place where many prominent American explorers, judges and historical figures are buried, right alongside of the common soldier who fought for his or her country and died for freedom.  The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at Arlington and students may observe it being guarded closely by a professional soldier. With enough advance planning, student travel group coordinators may request that their visit to Arlington National Cemetery coincide with a formal wreath laying ceremony, a solemn and colorful tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Smithsonian Museum

The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. has many facets.  Student groups who are looking to gain a full understanding of American conflicts in the 20th Century will want to schedule some time at the National Museum of American History.  School trips visiting this Museum will find additional information, photographs, relics, films, and stories about the U.S. conflicts mentioned above. The National Museum of American History will expand upon knowledge gathered at all of the sites visited.  This Museum also offers some exceptional curricular materials that can be utilized in the classroom when prepping students to study these wars and make a visit to our nations capitol.

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Popular Choices for the Smithsonian Museum for Educational Travel Groups

The Smithsonian Museum is a much-anticipated destination for student tour groups. The problem is, there are so many museums and so many choices for the student travel group, and many groups are only on tour for 3-4 days. Choose a qualified educational travel consultant to help select and schedule a visit to a portion of the Smithsonian Museum that best matches the learning objectives for the educational tour of Washington D.C.

This article will highlight portions of the Smithsonian Museum that are most often requested for visits by student travel groups. It will not cover all of the Smithsonian Museums. To take a closer look at each museum, please visit their website at http://www.si.edu. This article will also point out aspects of each museum that lend themselves to different areas of academic interest.

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)
The National Museum of the American Indian fosters and protects the culture and societies of native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and Hawaii. Educational travel groups will learn a great deal from these exhibits that highlight, culture, artistic and spiritual beliefs, clothing, lifestyles, and livelihoods of Native peoples from across the continent. Educational travel groups will find both historical and contemporary perspective of the tribes. The NMAI is a community organization that also sponsors national PowWows and other events of interest to Native peoples and friends.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Plants, animals, insects and human life are explored to the fullest at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Student tour groups will be inspired by the diversity of species and cultures represented in this museum’s world class exhibits. Many of the exhibits feature interactive learning opportunities for student travel groups. For example, in the Bug Corner exhibit, visitors are encouraged to hold an insect or feed a tarantula. The Discovery Room also provides an opportunity for hands on learning on a variety of topics. Educational travel groups of all ages are thrilled at the opportunity to explore the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The United States has always been on the cutting edge in the exploration of space, air travel, and new technology. Student travel groups look forward to their visit to the National Air and Space Museum to view historic artifacts, tour the 22 exhibition galleries, visit the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater, and test the flight simulators. Educational travel groups will also want to visit the Albert Einstein Planetarium for one of two daily shows.

National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery reopened to the public in July of 2006 in a newly restored historic building in Washington D.C. The National Portrait Gallery is a great way for student travel groups to embrace the artistic treasures that are contained within American history. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. displays portraits of “men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development and culture of the people of the United States.” The collection of over 20,000 portraits in various media is organized thematically in various exhibitions. Educational travel groups will not want to miss the “American Presidents” gallery, Colonial American portraits, and The American Revolution, singers and patriots.

The Smithsonian Museum is a wonderful treasure that highlights some of the most noteworthy aspects of American history and culture. Schedule a visit to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C that is best suited to student learning objectives and curriculum. To learn more about other student travel destinations in Washington D.C. visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

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