Presidential History at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Washington, DC

The last time I was at a wax museum was in the 3rd grade for a field trip.  It was a local wax museum and I honestly don’t remember what I saw or how it was related to anything educational!  I think other than that, my only other exposure to the idea of a wax museum was the old Vincent Price movie House of Wax…yikes!

However, my recent visit to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Washington, DC was a completely different and fun experience!  This museum is the only of Madame Tussaud’s (other locations include multiple locations in America, Europe, Asia, and Australia) that has figures of all 44 U.S. Presidents.  It’s a terrific opportunity to have your children learn about U.S. History as the first part of the museum takes you through the role of presidency from George Washington through to President Obama.

Crossing the Delaware with George Washington
Crossing the Delaware with George Washington

 

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Had to meet Thomas Jefferson…Wahoo Wa!

 

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Hubby was surprised to see he was actually taller than James Madison.

 

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It was such an interactive experience…you could literally walk right up to each wax figure and they looked so unbelievably real.  I swear they were looking at me as I was looking at them.  Here is a room with several wax figures…can you tell which are people and which are the wax figures?

Telling Honest Abe to look out from behind!
Telling Honest Abe to look out from behind!

 

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Comparing her height to other presidents…

 

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Jimmy Carter…the U.S. President when I was born!

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You can even make a cool wax mold of your hand on your museum visit!

At the end of the walk through the U.S. Presidents, there was a photo opportunity to get professional museum pictures done with the British Royal family, President Obama and Michelle Obama, and a seat in the Oval Office.

However, after the presidential portion, the music kicked up a notch and wax figures from pop culture were there to enjoy!

They loved seeing Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift!
They loved seeing Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift!

 

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I joined the fun as well.  Getting funkdafied with Beyonce, chillin’ with Julia Roberts, and swooning over George Clooney….and yes, you will swoon when gazing into his eyes!

Visiting Madame Tussaud’s Washington DC was both an educational and entertaining visit for my family.  My husband actually said it was his favorite part of our DC trip!  If you have the chance to visit, I highly recommend taking your family here (especially if your children are in grade school).  They will see a lot of social studies information that they probably have learned about in their classes.

Ways to Extend the Learning

Further Investigation:  Pick a specific U.S. President and research the notable information that was displayed in their museum setting.  Why was this considered a significant contribution of this president?

Compare and Contrast two U.S. Presidents:  Pick two U.S. Presidents and compare and contrast the following qualities:

  • political party
  • family
  • background/experience
  • ideals/values
  • contributions

Children can draw a Venn Diagram to show their findings.

 

Have you ever been to a Madame Tussaud’s?  What did you think of it?

~Lani

Disclosure:  I am not affiliated with Madame Tussaud’s, Washington, DC.  I received complimentary admission to the museum to be able to write this post.  The thoughts and opinions here are completely my own.

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Fostering a Love for Modern Art at the Hirshhorn Museum

My 10 year old is starting to develop a maturity towards art.  She’s always been a crafter, kid artist, coloring book fan, and all things from AC Moore or Michaels.  However, as she’s gotten older, she is showing that she is starting to appreciate more sophisticated works.  When we went to Washington, DC a few weeks ago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden was a must on our itinerary.  Even if you aren’t a fan of modern or contemporary art, it would be surprising to not marvel at least once at the art displays here.

A side note before you dive further into this post, just wanted to share that all of these pictures (with the exception of the ones where she was in the picture) were taken by my 10 year old daughter using my DSLR.  So proud of her!

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The sculpture garden surrounding the museum building can invoke some interesting conversation.  Here we were questioning, “What do you think they are discussing?” and “What is the significance of the individual in the back?”

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I think we need to do something different when we take pics besides do the “jazz hands” pose!

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Don’t overlook the fountain in the “center” of the museum.  The fountain itself seems to have an element of performance art!

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Again…we love jazz hands!

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Yup…those are Virgin Mary statues…

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This art installation took up an entire room.

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My daughter loved this face carved into the stone.

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If you are looking for an incredible reason to go to the Hirshhorn, let the Shirin Neshat:  Facing History collection be it.  It is powerfully moving with both images and film throughout the exhibit in showing the duality of power and identify in the Islamic world.  The themes are very culturally rooted and may be above children’s ability to understand, but my daughter clearly got the message of the different roles and expectations between men and women.

Ways to Extend the Learning:

Found Art:  Encourage your child to hunt for household materials (old egg cartons, boxes, cotton…anything lying around!) in the house and to create a work of art from it!

Repetition in Art:  Go to your local dollar store and find art that your child can use in repetition to make an art piece.  This can be as simple as paper clips, popsicle sticks, even food!  Encourage them to use layering and repetition to create something dynamic!

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Washington DC’s Newseum-A Journey Through Marks in History

The front exterior of the museum sets the tone with a grand reminder of our freedom of speech.
The front exterior of the museum sets the tone with a grand reminder of our First Amendment rights.

A few weeks ago we visited the Newseum in Washington, DC for the first time and found it a compelling and emotional walk through many of our world’s most significant events.  With the tag line “There’s More to Every Story”, the Newseum proves that the art of investigating events can unravel revelations of humanity.

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A common thread illustrated throughout the Newseum is how a free press reveals truth and is an obligation to society.  The front of the museum is adorned with the covers of the current issues of the day (can you believe that?) of a major newspaper from every state.  You can also find these covers on the top floor as well as peruse them digitally in a kiosk.  It’s a great visual example of efforts of journalists in delivering stories that matter to the people.

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The Newseum includes numerous exhibits, theaters with a variety of films, artifacts, galleries, and interactive stations.  One of my favorites was the News Corporation News History Gallery.  The walls included additional artifacts and media signage and covers of significant moments in history.  This gallery includes front pages of newspapers from as far back as the 1400s.  Each issue is encased in protective glass, but can be pulled out to be read more carefully by guests.   I loved going through to read the issues of significant years in my family’s life including our birth years.  I even had my 10 year old read bits and compare the development of language throughout time.  She was really surprised at how difficult it was to understand the English written newspapers from the early 1900s.

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The Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery is a very haunting and emotional walk through more recent history.  We were warned at the front desk that some of the images in this gallery may be too graphic for our young children.  Many images are the widely known capturing of major news stories including the civil rights era, the Oympics, 9/11, and wars.  The capturing of emotions running from elation to tragedy left me tearful after the short walk.

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The Berlin Wall Gallery included a segment from the original wall that separated East and West Germany for so long.  I was in middle school when the Berlin Wall was torn down and remember how momentous it was to see this symbol and physical barrier of oppression be removed.  However, it was even more eye-opening to see the journalism journey behind the destruction of the wall.

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The 9/11 Gallery features a segment of debris from the horrendous attacks and delicately tells the story of one of America’s most tragic historical events.  The huge wall behind shows front pages of newspapers from around the world in covering the terrorist attack.

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The Bloomberg Internet, TV, and Radio Gallery shows the development of news and media channels throughout history.  Not only are images conveying significant stories in radio, TV, and internet displayed, but artifacts are present to help tell the story (such as damaged and weathered items from Hurricane Katrina’s impact on New Orleans).

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The New Media Gallery is a fun interactive exhibit that takes the guest in a tutorial on how new media today not only allows anyone to interact, select, and engage with content, but allows anyone to be creators of media content.  There is even a fun interactive motion-detection game where you “dunk” the news anchor that my 10 year old loved!

We also watched a 4-D movie, “I-Witness:  A 4-D Time Travel Adventure” that is geared towards family friendly entertainment.  A few points I thought were a bit scary and think it may be too much for sensitive young ones.  However, it does teach viewers significant achievements in journalism through history in a fun way.

There is so much to see at the Newseum, we didn’t even get the chance to view every exhibit as we had wanted!  I highly suggest the Newseum to be added to your Washington DC travel itinerary for your family, particularly if you have children in upper elementary school and above.  The news coverage displayed in the exhibits help support many history curriculums.  I suggest you aim to spend the entire day at the museum to be able to immerse yourself in all that it has to offer!

Suggestions to Extend the Learning

  • Check out the digital classroom resources from Newseum for your child to learn more through primary sources, videos, etc. that support standards of learning.
  • Do you homeschool?  Newseum also offers lesson plans for those visiting the museum and those who can’t!
  • Journalist for a Day:  Encourage your child to pick a significant news story of the day and research current updates on it.  Have him/her present their coverage to the family like a “news anchor” at the end of the day.
  • Photojournalism Field Trek:  Have your child practice capturing “the story” in your day with a photojournalistic approach.  Communications specialist Cassie Dull has a great powerpoint presentation on teaching photojournalism to kids here.  Encourage kids to find a story in what they see happening in real life and practice capturing the essence of the moment with a camera.

The Newseum was such a great walk through history and memories of things both triumphant and tragic.  It is truly a great example of what museums should be like today.  It is an educational and emotional experience wrapped into one.  What news story in history resonantes with you the most?

~Lani

Disclosure:  I am not affiliated with the Newseum.  I received complimentary admission to the Newseum to help write this post.  The thoughts and opinions here are completely my own.

 

 

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