Hey Smithsonian - What movies have been filmed at the Smithsonian?

Did you know?  The U.S. red carpet premiere of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, featuring the one and only Tom Cruise, took place at the Smithsonian Institution.  Other recent red carpet premieres with cast and filmmakers include Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and InterstellarWonder Woman 1984 was also just filmed – in part – at multiple locations across the Smithsonian.  And this got us wondering – what other movies have been filmed there?

In speaking with Zarth Bertsch, Director for Smithsonian Theaters, “The Smithsonian Institution’s connection to Hollywood runs wide and deep, ranging from participation in upcoming films as a filming location or consulting on scripts / content, to hosting red carpet premieres, film festivals, and exhibiting new films with movie props and / or audience Q&As with cast and filmmakers.”

The Institution has played a role in many other films in various ways:

  • The first movie ever filmed at the Smithsonian was the sci-fi film, The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951.
  • In 1981, First Monday in October was filmed outside the Arts and Industries Building and Smithsonian Castle. In fact, The Rotunda of the Arts and Industries Building was actually turned into a movie set for filming.
  • Romance flick, Chances Are (1989) was filmed in the First Ladies Collection at the National Museum of American History, as the main character (played by Cybill Shepard) is a curator in charge of the collection.
  • Get Smart (2008) starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway featured several shot sequences of the exterior of the Smithsonian. The headquarters of a secret government agency is located inside the National Museum of Natural History in this comedy, and it includes an interior scene of Steve Carell’s character walking thorough the Rotunda of the Museum of Natural History.
  • Perhaps the best-known example of the Smithsonian being center stage was in Night as the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) starring Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Robin Williams, and many other top movie stars of recent time, which was filmed at the Smithsonian Institution and marked the first time “Smithsonian” was allowed in the title of a featured film.
  • Two more recent examples include Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and Captain America: The Winter Solider (2014), both filmed at the National Air and Space Museum.

To view a list of all the films in which the Smithsonian has played a role, check out Institution’s website.  Also, for films and festivals/programs currently being exhibited at Smithsonian Theaters, go to www.si.edu/theaters.

In 2018, WorldStrides became the approved domestic educational travel provider of the Smithsonian. This blog is part of a series, “Hey Smithsonian!” where we ask our friends at the venerable institution questions that dig deeper into this special place and all it has to offer!

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