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Find the stars of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian features plenty of eye-catching objects – but how many of them actually appear in the Smithsonian collection? Watch the movie and take a trip to D.C. to see the real stars of the show.

Art Pieces

August Rodin’s The Thinker can be seen at the National Gallery of Art (which is not, in fact, a part of the Smithsonian). Worldwide, there are more than 50 casts of the sculpture in this size, which is 71 centimeters high—far smaller than the giant featured in the movie.

Most of the sculptures by Degas held by the National Gallery can be found in the West Ground Floor in Gallery 4. However, we couldn’t confirm that the one seen in the movie—the large one of the girl in the tutu—is there. But there are a number of smaller sculptures, as well as paintings, drawings and prints.

The balloon dog seen multiple times in the film is based on a sculpture by Jeff Koons. It does not appear anywhere in the Smithsonian. It is, in fact, over ten feet tall and is currently on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“American Gothic”—the iconic painting of the guy holding the pitchfork standing next to a dour-looking woman—is by Grant Wood. It is not at the Smithsonian; it is currently held by the Art Institute of Chicago.

“V-J Day in Times Square” is the photograph showing the sailor kissing a nurse and was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt. It does not appear in the National Gallery, nor anywhere else in the Smithsonian in the large format you see in the film.

“Crying Girl,” by Roy Lichtenstein, appears weepily in the film, but is not at the Smithsonian. However, you can see a number of his comic-book style paintings and prints at the National Gallery.


Amelia Earhart has a strong presence throughout the Smithsonian. The Lockheed Vega 5B that she flew across the Atlantic—the same one she uses to fly to New York in the film—is, in fact, on display at the National Air and Space Museum. (The same plane was later used on her flight across the US, the first such solo flight by a woman. The museum is hosting a lecture on June 3 from 12-12:15 pm called “Night at the Museum 2: The Real Stuff,” where expert Dorothy Cochrane will talk about the “little red bus.” You can also see her coat in Gallery 208.

The Tuskegee Airmen have a large place in history, a pivotal role in the movie, but a small place at the Air and Space Museum. You can see the Congressional Gold Medal presented to the Tuskegee Airmen in 2007 in Gallery 208.

Able the Space Monkey is on view at the National Air and Space museum. However, she—and she is a she—is, in fact, a rhesus monkey and not a capuchin, like in the film. You can check her preserved body out in Gallery 210.

You can see plenty of pictures of Napoleon at the American Art Museum, including Henry Brintnell Bounetheau’s “Napoleon Bonaparte,” where he’s wearing his hat. It’s on the third floor.

At the American History Museum you can see General George Custer’s coat, as well as an example of the Springfield Carbine, the weapon that most of his men carried at the Battle of Little Bighorn. You can also see his coat on display in the musem.

Teddy Roosevelt’s chaps (and an original “Teddy Bear”) are on display at the American History Museum; you can also see a portrait of TR in the “America’s Presidents” gallery on the second floor of the National Portrait Gallery.

Ivan the Terrible isn’t really around the Smithsonian; however, you can see rarely-exhibited Russian treasures at the Sackler Gallery through Sept. 13 with their exhibit “The Tsars and the East: Gifts from Turkey and Iran in The Moscow Kremlin.” You can see a 16th-century shield from Iran that’s inlaid with gold; it belonged to Prince Fedor Ivanovich Mistislavsky, who served as a commander under Ivan.

Other pieces

The 1903 Wright Flyer can be seen at the National Air and Space Museum and it is, as explained in the movie, made of wood and cloth. However, since it can only fly a few hundred feet at a time, the soaring escape it makes in the movie is pure Hollywood.

There is a giant squid on display at the Museum of Natural history, but it looks nothing like the one in the movie. However, if you’d like to check out the slimy creature, it’s in the Sant Ocean Hall.

Archie Bunker’s chair, which Kahmunrah uses as a throne, appears in the “Thanks for the Memories” exhibit in the American History museum. Dorothy’s “hey…these aren’t real rubies” slippers are also here, as are Oscar the Grouch and Muhammad Ali’s gloves and robes, all of which are part of Kahmunrah’s pile of loot. However, Darth Vader is not currently on display.

And, to top it all off, Kahmunrah’s treasure—the prop from the movie—will be on display at the Castle through Sept. 30.

There are also daily tours at the Air and Space Museum in which objects featured in the movie will be highlighted. The tours take place every day at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Print the Treasure Map

Ready for an adventure? This print-friendly Treasure Map is your guide to all the artifacts used in the movie. Since the artifacts are spread throughout four museums and the Smithsonian Castle, the Treasure Map will help you locate your favorite objects and characters from the movie!

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