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Jane Goodall is a household name for good reason. She is an extraordinary woman whom, without having attending college, revolutionized the concept of what makes a human when she discovered for the first time that chimps in the wild were able to create tools. She then went on to make more incredible discoveries in the wild and to this day remains a strong and persuasive voice for environmental conservation.
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The question of how Jane Goodall evolved from a little girl fascinated with earthworms to become Dr. Jane Goodall, the environmental icon is addressed in the National Geographic Museum’s new exhibit Becoming Jane.
The exhibit is big and comprehensive. It follows Dr. Goodall’s life from her time as a little girl growing up in pre-war England and tracing her future as a jungle-dwelling wildlife expert to her roots exploring her yard, devouring books about animals, and dreaming of one day traveling to Africa. Kids can definitely relate to young Jane’s love of being outdoors and exploring nature. Seeing the notebook she created as a young girl with drawings of the plants in her neighborhood may even inspire some kids to start documenting the animals and vegetation they see around them every day.
There are also plenty of interactive parts to the exhibit. My kids loved exploring a replica of Dr. Goodall’s field tent, which included cots, a typewriter, and other basics that made up Dr. Goodall’s home while living in the African forest. Another fun part of the exhibit is putting on googles and choose what you want to see. I choose to see a Mama chimp bonding with her baby chimp and it was adorable.
Be sure not to miss the VR room. With 3-D glasses you will feel as though you are entering the jungle right alongside Dr. Goodall and experiencing the chimps as she did, but without the danger of snakes or the sweltering heat.
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My kids’ absolute favorite part of the exhibit was “Chimp Chat.” In this part of the exhibit budding environmentalists try to mimic five different sounds that chimps make in the wild. My children were able to make eerily accurate chimp sounds and ae convinced they are now able to speak chimp.
The exhibit also includes numerous artifacts from Dr. Goodall’s life from childhood through the present. Because this is National Geographic there are also plenty of photographs tracing Dr. Goodall’s work from her early days in the jungle through the present.
Included in admission is the photography exhibit Women showcasing photos depicting joy, beauty, love, wisdom, strength, and hope. This exhibit has a companion scavenger hunt for kids that asks kids to find various pictures and think about them. For example, kids are asked what is similar and different about photos of women swimming from the mid-century and the 21 st Century. It’s worth a look!
Good to know:
When: November 22, 2019 – Summer 2020
Price: $15 for adults
Discounts: Seniors/Students/Military: $12
Children 5-12 (free under 5): $10
Runs: March 1, 2019 – September 2, 2019
Hours: Open daily, 10 AM – 6 PM, Last ticket sold 5 PM
Getting there: National Geographic is near the Dupont Circle station on the Red Line.
There is also metered two-hour street parking and several garages nearby.
The exhibit is stroller-friendly and there are changing tables in the bathrooms.