When visitors come to the Washington, DC, area I like to have an off-the-beaten-path option for them. Something that most people would just walk or drive by and not notice. One of these options used to be the Einstein Statue, but recently they’ve redone the landscaping so it’s much harder to miss as you drive down Constitution Avenue.
It turns out that there is a “secret” underground “lair” in DC that you can enter and feel almost like you’re in a James Bond movie. In the photo, below, note the inconspicuous little building between the Smithsonian Castle (on the left) and the Freer Gallery (on the right). Looks like a visitor’s welcome center or something, right?
Not quite! After walking past a guard, you go down three stories underground, into the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center. It has classrooms, offices, a display hall, a performance theater, and access to two museums. It’s usually pretty quiet and isn’t as exciting as the Smithsonian museums, but last weekend it hosted a wonderful, juried photo exhibition. Here’s one of the views down there:
If you have a good enough imagination, you can pretend you’ve descended into a secret government facility, and at any moment an Indiana Jones-like fellow might pass by on the way to some far-off assignment, or perhaps a scientist will hand you a device and ask you to test it out in Moscow or something.