@ The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

We’re @: The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

What’s here: The museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. More than 7,000 artists are represented in the collection. The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists.

You call that art? We were excited to learn about the Film and Media Arts Initiative at the museum. On display was the Art of Video Games exhibit, which the kids loved. It is one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies.

Recharge here: The inner courtyard of the building is the ideal place to rest and recharge. There are also power outlets near many benches throughout the building if your phone is about to power down.

Lucky moment: We actually didn’t plan to visit this museum at all. We were halfway to the National Building Museum but it was very hot so we stopped in to find a water fountain. I’ve heard from other visitors that this is how many people discover this wonderful spot.

Watch for this: In the portrait gallery you get more than just a glimpse of our past presidents, but a lesson in changing art styles. Among our favorites were the portrait of Richard Nixon by Norman Rockwell, John Christen Johansen’s depiction of Woodrow Wilson and JFK by Elaine De Kooning. Sorry, George and Abe.

Did you know: We have a joke. We’ll ask the kids when the War of 1812 was fought. (Answer: Uh, 1812?) Well that would be about 200 years ago. On this Bi-Centennial the portrait gallery has a wonderful display of paintings of the War of 1812 including “The Battle of Lake Erie.” Since we’d just visited Lake Erie and the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial National Park the kids immediately sought out Admiral Perry’s portrait. He was pretty cute.