The halls are decked in red and green, and there's a winter chill in the air. The folks at the Smithsonian Gardens have taken great pains to decorate the Smithsonian Institution for the holidays. They have grown thousands of poinsettias and wrapped a green garland up the wrought iron gates to the Castle. In almost every museum, there's at least a hint of holiday cheer.
So what exactly can you expect to see if you're out and about around the Smithsonian over the next couple weeks? Although the biggest attraction might be the new lion cubs on exhibit at the National Zoo, you may want to admire some of the trimmings adorning the museum halls. The Natural History Museum may take the cake this year, with four holiday trees, decorated with museum-appropriate ornaments, including crocheted coral and tropical fish to go along with the "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef" exhibit. "Typically, the decorations tie into natural history," says horticulturist Monty Holmes of the Smithsonian Gardens. One of Natural History's other trees has miniature owls and berries as decorations.
The Smithsonian Castle, in contrast, has gone the classic route, with a giant, glittering tree full of red, silver and gold ornaments (watch a team of Smithsonian horticulturists decorate the tree in fast motion below).
While it may be a bit too cold out to go see all these decorations yourself, we've compiled a gallery of festive photos taken by Smithsonian photographer Eric Long, so you can stay warm and cozy inside. From all of us here at ATM, we wish you a very happy holiday!