Thursday, January 17, 2013

DC's Most Peculiar Museums

The Smithsonian grabs all the glory, its multiple venues rising up around the Mall like an educational fortress. But where are the giant hairballs and handcrafted mayonnaise-jar bongs? Here:

DEA Museum - One minute you're watching a video called One Sniff Can Kill, the next you're admiring an array of tightly rolled doobies. The federal, taxpayer-funded Drug Enforcement Administration curates the wares (located in the agency's lobby), which range from counterculture propaganda to undercover pimp gear like rabbit-fur jackets. Read more here.

National Museum of Health and Medicine - You might want to go light on breakfast before visiting the brains, spines and other body parts in jars. The stomach-shaped hairball leaves a lasting impression, as does Lincoln's assassination bullet and bits of his skull.

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum - Antique glass medicine bottles and Martha Washington's Scouring Compound line the shelves of the 1792 shop.

Woodrow Wilson House - While it's swell to see how genteel Washingtonians lived and socialized in this 1920s home, the chatty docents are the real draw. They spill the beans on today's neighborhood elite, everything from which ambassadors shack up in their embassies illegally, to spot-on directions to the Clintons' nearby home (recognizable by the muscular Secret Service dudes sitting out front in SUVs and staring you down).

This is part 3 of a DC series. Part 1 covers DC's top 10 free things to do. Part 2 covers where Mayor Barry smoked crack, Nixon wiretapped and other scandal sites.

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