Posted Dec 03, 2019
The National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. hosts a wide range of permanent and changing exhibitions that highlight important ideas and discoveries in the fields of exploration, scientific research, and education. Their current exhibition, Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall, which runs through summer 2020, allows visitors to get a glimpse into Dr. Goodall's life and famous behavioral research with chimpanzees through an array of hands-on, transportive, multimedia exhibits.
We sent two of our MOM Squad ambassadors to experience Becoming Jane with their families. They received free admission in exchange for providing an honest review of their experience.
Lisa: Becoming Jane is an exhibit all about Jane Goodall! It starts with her childhood and how she became interested in animals. There are displays of books she read, childhood photos and even her toy chimp, Jubilee, which was mentioned in the book "Me...Jane".
April: The opening video gives you a brief overview of Jane's life and what she studied. It was very realistic and my daughter thought the monkey was going to come out of the screen. It was neat to see how she grew up and how she loved monkeys from an early age.
Lisa: It moves on to her work in Africa studying chimpanzees. There's a replica of her research tent.
April: Next was one of my son's favorite parts, there was a hologram of Jane Goodall. She talked about how she first came to Africa and was asked to come back and study the chimps. He thought it was so neat to hear and see her talk about her research.
Lisa: There was also a room where you put on 3D glasses and suddenly you're in the jungle!
April: You got to see how it took her a little while for the chimps to accept her and not run away when she came around. It was so pretty and felt like you were actually in the trees. It was beautiful. The kids thought that was really neat. They also had a 2D version out in the hall playing for people that couldn't or didn't want to do the 3D.
The next section was about her research. There were interactive screens where you could try to repeat a chimp call. There was a chimp skull and human skull to compare and a cast of a chimp hands you could compare to your hands.
There was also a place to learn about chimp behaviors that Dr. Goodall researched. It was interesting to see how chimps think very similar to humans.
Lisa: Lastly, the exhibit shows you how the chimps are endangered because of habitat loss, trafficking, etc.
April: The exhibit reviewed the global threats to the chimps and things that are harmful for chimps. It also talked about Dr. Goodall's reserve that rehabs injured chimps. This leads into the room that showed the many awards Jane Goodall has received and many other people saying what an amazing person and influence she is.
Lisa: There's a Tree of Hope where you can pledge to do something to help and your pledge is turned into a digital leaf with your name on it and placed on the tree.
April: You can pledge to Use Less Plastic, Avoid Palm Oil, or Take a Walk, put your information in and then a leaf with your name is created. It was really neat for the kids to see their name on the screen and know that they made a pledge.
There was also a photo op to recreate one of Jane's photos.
Getting There and Getting In
Lisa: We took the Metro and got off at Farragut North. There are blue signs when you exit the station telling you which direction the museum is (along with other tourist attractions). It was less than a 10 minute walk to the museum.
April: The museum was easy to find. There was some street parking and a few parking garages within walking distance. There seemed to be a bus stop directly in front of the museum.
What Did You Enjoy Most?
Lisa: I loved that this exhibit was kid-friendly and there were lots to do and see.
April: It was a very interactive exhibit, and all three of my kids enjoyed it. The 3D part was really neat.
Is There Anything That Could be Improved?
Lisa: I thought it was the perfect size to entertain and educate the whole family without being boring.
April: Not really. It was very informative and it was fun.
Recommended Age Range
Lisa: I took my 8-year old daughter. I think this would be best for kids ages 7 and up.
April: My kids are 8, 4, and 2. I would say 5 and up would be best. There was a lot of reading, so we were reading a lot to my younger two that can't read yet.
Time Recommended to Enjoy Experience
Lisa: I would recommend 1-2 hrs.
April: I would say a good hour and a half for the exhibit. We spent more time in the Becoming Jane exhibit than in the photography one. We were in and out in about 2 hours.
Tips for Families
Lisa: There is no food or drink for purchase. They have water fountains. They have a cafe and cafeteria nearby in their M Street building. There is a coat rack at the entrance of the exhibit for your coats. No food or drinks allowed.
Would Your Family Visit Again?
Lisa: We would visit again as it was informative and entertaining.
April: Yes we would, depending on the exhibit.
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