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Off The Beaten Path: National Geographic Museum

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Don’t you just love the photos in National Geographic Magazine? The publication that’s known for its beautiful photography also puts some of its photos on display at a small museum in the ground floor of its headquarters building. It won’t take long to make your way through the exhibits but it’s worth a look if you’re in the neighborhood.

Exhibits: The National Geographic Museum rotates its exhibits on a regular basis.

The America I AM exhibit will be at the National Geographic Museum until May 1, 2011. The exhibit, which is open during the museum's hours of operation, features 200 artifacts from 500 years of African American contributions to the economic, political, cultural and spiritual development of the United States. Some of those artifacts include the dungeon doors of the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, Prince’s guitar and Muhammad Ali’s boxing robe. Tickets for adults are $12, military, seniors and students pay $10; groups of 25 or more pay $8; children ages 2-12 pay $6. Tickets can be purchased online or at the museum.

Beyond the Story: National Geographic Unpublished is also at the museum until June 12, 2011. The free exhibit features 50 unpublished photographs from 15 photographers from all over the world.

Great Migrations: A Photography Exhibition is at the National Geographic Museum until April 11, 2011. The free exhibit features images of the migrations that wild animals make throughout their lives and is based on the 7-hour documentary, “Great Migrations,” which appeared on the National Geographic channel in November 2010.

The President’s Photographers: 50 Years Inside the Oval Office will be on exhibit until May 1, 2011. The free exhibit features 40 images from nine White House photographers of presidents and their families.

Gift shop: The museum has a beautiful gift shop filled with handmade jewelry and art, as well as photography books and neat toys for kids.

Where: 1145 17th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036

Cost: Most exhibits are free but special temporary exhibits may charge a fee.

Hours of operation: Open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM; closed December 25

Parking: There is some metered parking on the street and several garages nearby.

Public transportation: Metro accessible via Farragut North and Farragut West stations. The Farragut North station is a bit closer.

What’s close by: The National Geographic Museum is located in a bustling business district of Washington, so there are plenty of small sandwich shops and high-end restaurants to choose from. However if you visit the museum on a Saturday or Sunday, many of these places are closed.

Other sites to see are the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle at 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, which was the location for the funeral mass of President John F. Kennedy and the place where Pope John Paul II celebrated mass during his 1979 visit to Washington. Visitors can do self-guided tours of this early 1900s church using the brochures located on the inside entrance of the Cathedral.

The National Geographic Museum is also close to Dupont Circle, a great place to people watch and get a bite to eat, and the White House.

Website/phone number: http://events.nationalgeographic.com/events/locations/center/museum/; 202-857-7588

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