Friday, February 18, 2011

Celebrate Black History Month With Tweens: Explore American Girl Addy's World at the Smithsonian

In celebration of Black History Month, the Smithsonian Museum of American History has put together a self-guided tour for tweens of the museum featuring American Girl Addy Walker. Addy is a nine-year old girl born into slavery who escapes to freedom with her mother during the Civil War. The Museum has gathered a collection of pieces that help bring to life what Addy experienced growing up.

We toured the exhibit on opening day with our tweens, and our 11-year wrote the following review of Addy's World:

"The Smithsonian museum is amazing. Today, my mom, my sister, my other sister, and I went to the Smithsonian. We went there because today was the first day of the Addy exhibit, and we are all huge fans of the American girl dolls.

The exhibit was all about the freedom of slaves during the time that Addy had lived. There was one part that was dedicated to African-American art. It was so cool with all of this amazing art was all around us. While we were exploring the exhibits, we were given a sheet with all of the exhibits concerning Addy and where they were.

Among the many exhibits, which we found with no trouble whatsoever, there was one in which an entire house had been moved to into the museum. Apparently, the whole museum had been built around that house! Also, one of the most intriguing exhibits was the one that showed all manner of African-American art. There was photographs, paintings, bead art, and sculptures. They were all so intricate and pretty.

As we neared the end of the exhibits, we came by a room full of things that looked like a mini, high-tech spaceships from a video game. We soon found out that they were simulators, and as soon as we did, I was already in line (that is, after is I begged my mom to let me). I went on a ride that went under the sea into the Bermuda Triangle. It was so cool! I went into a whirlpool, past some stingrays, and through a grave yard of shipwrecks! The Smithsonian was so awesome, and I do not think that that is going to be my last trip to the museum."

Thanks for writing this review, Indi!

Parents, here are a few tips as you plan your visit:
  • Wear comfy shoes - the museum is a huge building with tempting things to see on all four levels.
  • Stow your coats in the Museum's free lockers located across from the Information Desk
  • We had a snack after the exhibit at the Museum's Constitution Cafe - it was convenient, well-priced, and had great food.
  • If your tween collects those flattened pennies, be prepared - we found several of these machines in the building.
  • Leave some time to explore the Museum's collection of the First Ladies' Inaugural Gowns and the very cool Spark!Lab and Innovation at Play hands-on "experience labs" on the First Floor.
  • Who knew?!? The Smithsonian houses a mini-amusement park in the basement of the American History Museum! There are about six Ride Simulators offering a 3-D immersive experience. Each ride costs $7 and lasts 5 minutes. Keep this in mind for your next tween birthday party!
Addy's World would be a great activity to do with tweens over the Presidents' Day weekend.

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