Friday, July 23, 2010

The Saipan Blogger Invades Pod Five

I get to do some pretty cool stuff. This morning I had an appointment at the Smithsonian Museum Support Center in Maryland (SMSC). What is the SMSC, you might ask? Well, have you read Dan Brown's latest novel?

From The Lost Symbol (page 33):
The sign on the door announced:


The Smithsonian Institution, despite having more than a dozen massive museums on the National Mall, had a collection so huge that only 2 percent of it could be on display at any one time. The other 98 percent of the collection had to be stored somewhere. And that somewhere...was here.
smscAccording to Smithsonian Magazine, Dan Brown got it mostly right. The SMSC stores about 40% of the collection, not 2%. Most of the collection is held in the museums down on the National Mall. Even so, in the book, a lot of the action takes place in the SMSC, especially in the super-secret Pod Five. A few pages later:
Her footsteps clicked rhythmically down the cement corridor that ran like a spine through the SMSC. Known as "The Street," the corridor connected the building's five massive storage pods. Forty feet overhead, a circulatory system of orange ductwork throbbed with the heartbeat of the buildling - the pulsing sounds of thousands of cubic feet of filtered air being circulated.

Normally, during her nearly quarter-mile walk to her lab, Katherine felt calmed by the breathing sounds of the building. Tonight, however, the pulsing had her on edge. What she had learned about her brother today would have troubled anyone, and yet because Peter was the only family she had in the world, Katherine felt especially disturbed to think he might be keeping secrets from her.

As far as she knew, he had kept a secret from her only once... a wonderful secret that was hidden at the end of this very hallway. Three years ago, her brother had walked Katherine down this corridor, introducing her to the SMSC by proudly showing off some of the building's more unusual items - the Mars meteorite ALH-84001, the handwritten pictographic diary of Sitting Bull, a collection of wax-sealed Ball jars containing original specimens collected by Charles Darwin.

At one point, they walked past a heavy door with a small window.

Katherine caught a glimpse of what lay beyond and gasped. "What in the world is that?!"

Her brother chuckled and kept walking. "Pod Three. It's called Wet Pod. Pretty unusual sight, isn't it?"

Terrifying is more like it. Katherine hurried after him. This building was like another planet.

"What I really want to show you is in Pod Five," her brother said, guiding her down the seemingly endless corridor. "It's our newest addition. It was built to house artifacts from the basement of the National Museum of Natural History. That collection is scheduled for relocation here in about five years, which means Pod Five is sitting empty at the moment."

Katherine glanced over. "Empty? So why are we looking at it?"

Her brother's gray eyes flashed a familiar mischief. It occured to me that because nobody is using the space, maybe you could use it."
If you read the book you know what is inside Pod Five.

pod fiveAnd that, my friends, is the door to Pod Five (you probably have to click on the photo to be able to read that the door does in fact say "Pod 5.")

smithsonian museum Any guesses as to what is really inside Pod Five? I'm going back there on Thursday and will post photos about a week from now.

1 comment:

Isa said...

That's not how I imagined it when I read the book. I didn't know it was a real place.