At Rivertowne 12 Cinemas, children’s films, supernatural thrillers, comedies, and superhero blockbusters all share equal billing. Twelve auditoriums light their silver screens with 3D and digital projections, carrying audience members to other worlds so they don't blow their savings accounts while trying to make a space elevator.
Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. escorts guests on an interactive journey through American history. Only here, the past isn't manifested through movies, but through wax. Inside, The President's Gallery brings visitors face-to-face with all 44 US presidents, from Harry Truman to Abe Lincoln and his signature spinning bowtie. Cultural leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., stand tall nearby, and rock stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan compose silent jam sessions in the Music Room. Hollywood stars, sports heroes, and nonpresidential political figures round out the collection, which can be visited 365 days a year.
Deemed one of the world’s 12 coolest museums by the Sunday Times, the Newseum uses new technology to tell the history of newspapers, journalism, and groundbreaking photography. Beyond the museum's 74-foot engraving of the First Amendment and its glass atrium, 14 permanent exhibits include the News Corporation News History Gallery, where 10 touch screens offer time lines, games, close-up views of publications, and a live cam of Tom Brokaw's nose. Several theaters screen documentaries that focus on journalistic issues, and the temporary Photo Finish exhibit displays legendary sports photographer Neil Leifer’s work, including a shot of a victorious Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston while announcing his career transition to badminton. The Berlin Wall Gallery shows how news shaped the story of the wall being torn down, with eight 12-foot sections of the wall on display.
It’s only fitting that a museum devoted to architecture is itself housed in a formidable structure. The National Building Museum's 19th-century edifice greets visitors with somber Union soldiers sculpted into the exterior’s 1,200-foot frieze. Corinthian columns 75 feet high and built with 70,000 bricks lead into the cavernous Great Hall, which soars up to 159 feet in height and captures the echo of groups as they follow the color-coded banners towards exhibits devoted to American and international architecture, engineering, and design. Drawing on hands-on children’s toys, drawings, photographs, and models, the exhibits delve into everything from the history of the American home to the evolution of building blocks and other architectural toys. Future-facing exhibits, meanwhile, focus on topics such as sustainable school buildings that employ recycled construction materials and singing plants instead of teachers. The museum shop practices what it preaches with an award-winning selection of sustainable housewares, toys, and books.
The Crime Museum shines a light on the dark underbelly of society with more than 100 interactive exhibits spread across three stories and 25,000 square feet of gallery space. After resting their weary bones in an unplugged electric chair, fans of CSI can live out television fantasies at the Crime Scene Investigation exhibit, where they can learn what it takes to be a forensic scientist and watch professionals in action before trying to determine whether or not fellow museum-goers exhibit the traits of serial killers. The exhibit also serves as a crash course in fingerprinting, DNA testing, fraudulent-check investigation, and dental-impression and ballistics analysis. The museum devotes an entire level to the now-retired set of America’s Most Wanted, providing an adjoining exhibit where fans of the show can step into a green screen for a criminal profile or imaginary Caribbean vacation. The museum’s many permanent exhibits include A Notorious History of American Crime, about the country's felonious forefathers, and an exploration into one of the most heinous masterminds of modern times in the Ted Kaczynski: The Unabomber exhibit.
Considered to be the country's only public museum devoted to the history of global espionage, the International Spy Museum teems with multimedia displays, hands-on activities, and educational events. Filled with low-lit halls and mysterious doors, the museum backs up its exhibits with experience; many of its board members, staff, and speakers are former spies. Executive Director Peter Earnest, for one, spent more than 35 years in the CIA and its National Clandestine Service; frequent speaker Oleg Kalugin once held a position as major general of the KGB. Through special talks and an array of exhibits, the group reveals several hundred years of spy techniques and gadgetry, showcases connections between real spies and pop culture, and draws from international backgrounds to grant a global perspective.
In the Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains exhibit, visitors explore the most memorable villains from throughout the James Bond film series, discovering the role the series played in shaping public perception of spying and exploring how the villains changed to reflect their times. Featuring over 110 movie and historic artifacts, a series galleries allows visitors to learn about the wide variety of evildoers from many perspectives. For an additional charge, guests can opt to embark on a simulated covert mission entirely based on real intelligence case files in Operation Spy, a one-hour interactive exhibit during which participants ride in simulated truck beds and use video surveillance to find leaked nuclear-trigger technology in a fictional country.