Tucked away behind the airport in Leesburg, Virginia, is the Smithsonian Naturalist Center. Created by the need to store overflow items from the downtown Natural History Museum, the Naturalist Center was created as a hands-on educational library of specimens.
Today, we traveled down to see Luke's rock collection, which was one of five selected from his school to be displayed at the center. There were also some pretty wonderful student insect collections, and countless specimens of birds, mammals, invertebrates, fishes, fossils and minerals. It's the kind of place you could visit every day and always see something new. I would love to go down there with a sketch pad, and pull birds out of the cabinets to draw them.
Luke was pretty jazzed to show the grandparents his collection, and since he had only just visited the center, he was able to be a tour guide for us as well.
It's a pretty neat place. If you haven't been, you should make an effort to stop by. But be warned, it's only ages ten and up allowed.