Go behind the scenes for an insider's look at Smithsonian artifacts and state-of-the-art research facilities. This year our exclusive one-time only program reflects on Smithsonian's mission of the increase and diffusion of knowledge

Starting at: $3,695 Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The Smithsonian Castle  Stradivarius instruments, collection of National Museum of American History  Panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo  A cheetah and her cub at the Smithsonian National Zoo   Orangutan at the Smithsonian National Zoo   The Cultural Resources Center, Smithsonian's Museum Support Center  Rotunda at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History  Viewing objects at the Cultural Resources Center  Staff showing collection details to travelers at the Cultural Resource Center  A small portion of Smithsonian's vast orchid collection  The Smithsonian's horticulture complex of greenhouses  Collections at the National Museum of the American Indian's Cultural Resource Center  The famous Hope Diamond, the largest-known deep blue diamond in the world  Amati Quartet instruments, collection of the National Museum of American History

Celebrate Smithsonian

A Behind-the-Scenes Gala Event

4 days from $3,695

Go behind the scenes for an insider's look at Smithsonian artifacts and state-of-the-art research facilities. This year our exclusive one-time only program reflects on Smithsonian's mission of the increase and diffusion of knowledge

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

An eye opening look at aspects of the Smithsonian that we forget about—or never knew. The range of the Institution's research is astounding! 

- Clyde L.

We thoroughly enjoyed Celebrate Smithsonian and look forward to joining a Smithsonian Journeys trip in the future. We thought the program, Smithsonian representatives, and fellow participants were all top notch. 

- Previous Journeys Traveler

This tour was very special because it brought me into the heart of what the [Smithsonian] mission is all about. Much of the history, the purpose, and the philosophy were covered and it made me appreciate the Institution all the more.

- Lydia M.

The Celebrate Smithsonian trip exceeded my expectations!

- Robin T.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

You're invited to celebrate Smithsonian at a special, one-time only, gala event offering an insider's look into the world's largest museum, research, and education complex. We'll usher you behind the scenes so that you can learn more deeply about the Institution's many research initiatives, curatorial efforts, and educational programs. Along the way, you'll meet world-class curators, scholars, and researchers, whose conviviality, accessibility, and passion create a uniquely immersive experience. And, you will create memories with others, like you, who seek a deeper understanding of the world.

Highlights Include:

  • National Museum of American History: Attend a special presentation followed by a private performance by select members of Smithsonian’s Chamber Music Society and spend time exploring Smithsonian’s world-class collection of musical instruments in the newly renovated Hall of Music.
  • Conservation Biology Institute or National Zoo Main Campus: On your choice of excursions learn about the effort to save wildlife species from extinction at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute or meet with veterinarians from the National Zoo to discuss the unique challenges they face in managing the health and well-being of a wide variety of animals. 
  • Museum Support Center: Enjoy insider access at this important Smithsonian campus, which provides state-of-the-art resources and facilities for the proper conservation, storage, research, and study of museum collections.
  • Exclusive Presentations: Attend fascinating discussions with Smithsonian Experts including planetary geologist Jim Zimbelman with the National Air and Space Museum and Jeffrey Post, curator-in-charge of the Division of Gems and Minerals / National Gem Collection, National Museum of Natural History.
  • National Museum of Natural History: Enjoy a gala farewell reception in the Hall of Gems and Minerals, where nearly 3,500 gems, minerals, rocks, and meteorites from our unparalleled collections are on display, including the iconic Hope Diamond.
  • The Hay-Adams Hotel: Stay in this elegant historic landmark hotel, located near the White House and Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery.

An eye opening look at aspects of the Smithsonian that we forget about—or never knew. The range of the Institution's research is astounding! 

- Clyde L.

We thoroughly enjoyed Celebrate Smithsonian and look forward to joining a Smithsonian Journeys trip in the future. We thought the program, Smithsonian representatives, and fellow participants were all top notch. 

- Previous Journeys Traveler

This tour was very special because it brought me into the heart of what the [Smithsonian] mission is all about. Much of the history, the purpose, and the philosophy were covered and it made me appreciate the Institution all the more.

- Lydia M.

The Celebrate Smithsonian trip exceeded my expectations!

- Robin T.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Arrive in Washington, D.C.

Arrive in Washington, D.C. and check-in to The Hay-Adams Hotel. Gather with fellow participants and Smithsonian Journeys staff for a welcome reception at the hotel. Then depart by motor coach for Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Enjoy time exploring the newly reopened Hall of Music. View highlights of the museum's music collections of American and European heritage, which include 18th-century Stradivari stringed instruments. Gather for a presentation by Kenneth Slowik, Curator, Division of Culture and Arts and Artistic Director, Smithsonian Chamber Music Society. Afterwards, enjoy a special musical performance by select members of Smithsonian’s Chamber Music Society. Since 1976, the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society's concerts and recordings have brought Smithsonian's priceless collection of musical instruments to life for music lovers all over the world. Afterwards, attended a gala welcome dinner served in the first-floor wing. (R,D) 

Day 2 — Smithsonian Zoo / Conservation Biology Institute

This morning it is your choice between two fascinating visits! Explore wildlife conservation and research at Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute or learn about Animal Care Sciences at Smithsonian’s National Zoo Main Campus. We urge participants to make their excursion selection at time of booking. Space is limited on each excursion so register early. A Smithsonian Journeys Destination Specialist will be happy to assist you.

Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI): Make an early morning departure and travel west of Washington, D.C. to Front Royal, Virginia. There you'll learn how the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is playing a leading role in Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Virginia, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability. At SCBI scientists study and breed more than 20 species, including those that were once extinct in the wild such as black-footed ferrets and scimitar-horned oryx. Major research initiatives are organized into five science centers: Conservation Ecology, Conservation and Sustainability, Conservation Genomics, Migratory Birds, and Species Survival. Other initiatives include the Global Tiger Initiative, Virginia Working Landscapes, and the Global Health Program. Enjoy a catered lunch and enjoy more informal discussions with scientists before returning to Washington, D.C. in the early afternoon. (Drive time: 1.5 hours each way by motor coach.)

or

Smithsonian’s National Zoo-Main Campus: Spend the late morning in the heart of Washington, D.C. at Smithsonian's National Zoo. Founded in 1889, the Zoo sits on 163 acres within the city’s historic Rock Creek Park. The National Zoo is currently home to more than 1,500 animals across 300 different species, including Giant pandas (including cub Bei Bei), Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, Aldabra tortoises, and Panamanian golden frogs…plus so much more. Learn more about the Zoo’s Center for Animal Care Sciences, which provides science-based husbandry, medical care, and population management for the health and well-being of all animals at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, as well as for animals at other zoos and in the wild. At the Center for Animal Care Sciences, veterinarians, curators, researchers, and animal care staff lead and participate in initiatives focusing on population sustainability, wildlife health and emerging diseases, nutrition, animal behavior and cognition, animal management, and exhibitry through enhanced enrichment and training programs. After your visit, depart for lunch at a local restaurant. (Drive time: 15 minutes each way by motor coach.)

This evening both groups gather back at the hotel for a cocktail reception. Enjoy a presentation by Jim Zimbelman, geologist in the Department of Earth & Planetary Studies at Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. Dr. Zimbelman served as the Chairman of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies from October 2002 to February 2007, as part of a rotating Chair position among the department scientists. His research interests include topical geologic mapping of Mars and Venus. After Dr. Zimbelman’s presentation, enjoy a sumptuous dinner in the hotel. (B,L,R,D)

Day 3 — Museum Support Center

Gather for a private breakfast buffet in the hotel. Depart for the Smithsonian’s Museum Support Center campus located just a short drive outside Washington, D.C. in Suitland, Maryland. Our state-of-the-art storage and conservation facility is not usually open to the public. Visit three facilities while there:

Cultural Resources Center (CRC), the second of three facilities comprising the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, is home to extensive collections and research programs of the museum. CRC provides state-of-the-art resources and facilities for the proper conservation, protection, handling, cataloging, research, and study of the museum's collections, library holdings, and photo and paper archives. The unique design of the Cultural Resources Center was conceived and executed with the direct involvement of Native communities. The CRC is designed to house the museum's collections in a manner that is sensitive to both tribal and museum requirements for access and preservation. The CRC also serves as a vital resource center for new approaches to the study and presentation of the history and culture of Native peoples.

Smithsonian’s Greenhouse Nursery Operations: These vast greenhouses maintain all of the plant material for the gardens, grounds, and horticultural exhibits throughout the Smithsonian Institution, including Smithsonian’s Orchid Collection, tropical plant specimens, interior display plants, and thousands of annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs, plus hundreds of poinsettias and other holiday plants.

Museum Support Center Main Building: No specimen is too small and no object too large to be accurately organized, filed, and stored in more than half a million square feet of storage space! This main site consists of five “pods” each about the size of a three-story-tall football field. There are chambers to preserve Antarctic meteorites, massive drawers holding art from throughout the ages, plus so much more. The environment within the MSC is strictly controlled in order to minimize impact on collections and is based on research by engineers at Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute and the Smithsonian’s Office of Facilities, Engineering and Operations.

Return to Washington, D.C. for a late lunch at 701 Restaurant. Afterwards, return to the hotel for time at leisure.

This evening depart for Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Enjoy a reception in the Janet Hooker Hall of Gems and Minerals. This hall features 3,500 minerals and gems, including the Hope Diamond, Hooker Emerald Brooch, and Star of Asia sapphire. The hall also explores the birth and evolution of the solar system and the Earth's changing surface. Gather for a presentation by Jeffrey Post, Department Chair, Geologist, Curator-in-Charge, Mineral Collection, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Afterwards, enjoy a festive farewell dinner in the museum. (B,L,R,D)

Day 4 — Depart Washington, D.C.

Breakfast is at your leisure. You will be provided with a voucher for use in the hotel’s restaurant or for room service. Individual departures from the hotel. Check out time is 12:00 p.m. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)