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Museum Minute Vol. 5 – Federal Government Museums

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Museum Minute is written by Elle O’Flaherty. Elle lives in Mt. Pleasant and previously wrote about Alternative Museum Activities.

This is going to be a bit of an odd museum recommendation, it’s only a recommendation if you’re in the neighborhood and have ten minutes to kill. With that disclaimer in place I feel comfortable letting you in on the semi-secret that many federal agencies have mini museums that are cool in a very low expectations kind of way. Regrettably, the Forestry Service museum – which is awesome and has an animatronic Smokey Bear – is closed for renovations. However, the picture above is from just across the street at the Department of Agriculture (1400 Jefferson Drive, SW on the Mall) where they hand out free tomato seed packets, which makes a quick drop-in worthwhile. There’s also a neat model of the future China pavilion in the National Arboretum if you’re interested in their development plans.

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Further down Independence Avenue just past 12th Street you’ll find the Department of Energy’s mini museum (1000 Independence Ave., SW). This one is clearly nicer and has some pretty neat explanations of the development of the atomic bomb. There’s also a full-size wind turbine and some interesting information on advancements in clean energy. All the federal building museums that I am aware of are accessible to the public during normal business hours. I’d love to hear about any others that are worth checking out.

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