A Day at the Smithsonian

Sure, you’ve heard about what happens during the night at the museum. But what happens during the day is just as magical!


The elephant in the rotunda of the National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations (OFEO) needed a eye-catching video to showcase the wide range of services the unit provides to the Smithsonian’s vast complex and museums, research centers, and other facilities. The resulting High Definition video, written, produced, and directed by Dan Sonnett, combines the cinematic feel and humorous touches of the Night at the Museum movies with a focused message illustrating OFEO’s critical role within the Smithsonian. Featuring interviews with engineers, designers, custodians, an “industrial hygienist”, and, naturally, a security officer, the video was shoot in the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Museum Resource Center, the Smithsonian Castle, and the National Museum of Natural History.

We had the pleasure of shooting after hours in the Natural History Museum’s vast rotunda, which, as you might expect, is a little spooky. The security officers who helped us that night shared some eerie ghost stories, which were set mainly in the corridors of the museum’s Physical Anthropology Department, home to a vast study collection of human skeletons.

The resulting video — entitled A Day at the Smithsonian — premiered at the museum in March 2010 as part of a staff appreciation event and was enthusiastically received by the audience. It was a pleasure to push the creative boundaries for this type of video and be able to entertain and inform at the same time!