Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology


That looks like Indy’s hat but these are real tools used by real archaeologists in the Indiana Jones exhibit at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.

Do you thirst for adventure, danger, and a trusty sidekick, but only have about three hours and 30 bucks spare?

Indy fans will love the souvenir shop, too.

Indy fans will love the souvenir shop, too.

Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, an exhibition based on the four adventure movies,  has finally arrived at the National Geographic Society Museum. A fan of the movies with a background in archaeology, I had been tracking this exhibit as it made its way across North America since I first heard about it, back in 2010. So I was a little excited when I finally got the chance to visit. I was not disappointed.


The Ark of the Covenant as envisioned by filmmakers in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I skipped the adventure of parking in downtown DC and took the Metro instead, stopping at the Farragut North station, on the Red Line. The National Geographic Society is about two blocks away.

The exhibit is a mix of a behind the scenes exhibit focused on all of the Indiana Jones movies, complete with props, costumes, and clips, and exhibits on real archaeologists and real digs.


Glasses, watch and pen used by the elder Dr. Jones in the third film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


The crystal skull, the treasure sought in the fourth movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

I found the second half to be a little light on artifacts, but given that this is a traveling exhibit, that is understandable. The exhibition does do a nice job of discussing the archaeological history of the areas where Indy has made an appearance, including Egypt, India and South America. One nice touch, the exhibition also discusses in greater detail some of the real archaeologists and sites that the movies mention.

But the real reason many people will be excited to see this is the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, the Sivalinga Stones and the Crystal Skull, all of which are here. Everything Harrison Ford, as Dr. Henry Jones Jr. went in search of, including the famous golden idol at the beginning of Raiders of the Ark, makes an appearance.

Clothes worn in the second of the Indiana Jones movies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Clothes worn in the second of the Indiana Jones movies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

The exhibit as a whole is a little video heavy. There are some very interesting ones, especially the ones that explain some of the connections to the real archaeology or history found in the movies. To view these, you are given a tablet with headphones to carry through the exhibit, and, while they are great, they are also a little isolating. It is not easy to turn to the person next to you and talk about the cool thing you are looking at, when they are watching something else. That said, for this movie-based exhibit, video really is the best way to convey this level of information.

“That belongs in a museum,” Indiana Jones insists about the Cross of Coronado at the beginning of the third movie in the series. Now it is.

It is a great exhibit, and well worth the trip. Be warned, you will want to watch all of the movies again the second you leave. Indiana Jones: the Exhibit is at the National Geographic until Jan. 3, 2016.

Guest blog post by Gina Truitt

Ⓒ Photos and text Gina Truitt


3 responses to “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology

  1. That looks amazing (though like you, I don’t think I’d be super keen on all the videos)! I love Indiana Jones (though as far as I’m concerned there are only three movies…I don’t like to talk about that other one), so I hope it comes to the UK at some point!

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