Museum of Science and Industry
It’s our hometown hero’s first holiday season in the Oval Office. The MSI brings a little of D.C. to Obama’s ’hood with patriotic-themed classic holiday displays.
1. Take the escalator up to the rotunda to see 55 trees in “Christmas Around the World.” A 45-foot tree stands at the center with silver bulbs, yellow blinking lights and White House ornaments. While you’re feeling patriotic, mull over the exhibit’s origins: It began in 1942 with 12 trees, each a salute to an Allied country. Now the exhibit is open to local cultural groups who apply. Search the forest for our favorite trees: the German tree with its hidden pickle ornament (tradition says that the first to spot it gets a prize) and the Lithuanian tree, a marvel of white drinking-straw ornaments.
2. Just to the west of the rotunda, dip into the “White House: A Look Inside” (extra ticket: $5, kids $2). Build excitement for the centerpiece—a 60-by-13-foot model of the White House—by meandering through galleries featuring odd White House facts (“1891—Electric lighting is installed. President Benjamin Harrison refuses to personally turn on the switches for fear of being shocked.”), mementos from Illinois-based Presidents’ White House stays, and ephemera-filled entertainment and First Lady displays. Then check out the White House model, replete with chimney smoke, working fountains and glowing TVs.
3. If your holiday spirit is still going strong, head way east to the Smart Home ($23 ticket includes admission, $22 seniors, $14 kids) to see environmentally friendly holiday decorations: an aluminum tree, LED lights, recycled wrapping paper and vintage decor fit for an ecofriendly First Family.