Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Smithsonian---All of Them!

 There are actually 19 museums/centers/zoos/gardens connected with the Smithsonian now. The original building is a visitor center with a concession stand and directions to all the other attractions.

My advice: schedule two days for the Smithsonian. One cannot do justice to that many free exhibits in one day. More advice: don't try to stay with someone and look at everything together--nobody in the world has that many similar interests. We did well to stay in the same museum, and even though we started exploring with a senior, we soon all went our separate ways, texting each other to meet at the fountain, main arch, gift shop or taxidermied whale, whatever the case might have been. That way we were free to meander to our hearts content.

Spirit of Saint Louis

It was raining, so we didn't brave the outside gardens. Instead we opted for the Air and Space Museum--Turtle wanted to see the "Spirit of St. Louis". Of course there are many more exhibits--both World Wars and the importance of the airplane in them are featured; the Wright Brothers have an entire room. There is a large jet cockpit for children to clamber into, and space stuff all over. Two floors full of stuff to look at and letters to read.

 We visited the American History Museum where we saw the flag that flew over Ft McHenry and inspired the Star Spangled Banner; (It was huge (30x34 feet) and would have been even bigger (30x42) if its owners hadn't spent the best part of one hundred years handing out little snippets of stripes and chunks of a star for souvenirs. Yes. Really. Ah well)

South-American Aqua-marine

the Natural History Museum which has a lovely collection of gems, including the Hope diamond;

Hope Diamond
Marie Antoinette's Earrings

and the Natural Gallery of Art, where I could have stayed all day.  It seemed like every room I walked into contained at least one painting I've seen many times before in a book--a literature book--or in a slide show about great art.  There were paintings by El Greco, Copley, Monet, Manet, Vermeer, Hals, Van Gogh, Renoir--Amazing. Of course I took pictures...and they are not good at all, due to lighting issues inside, so I went to the web site and found them all.  National Gallery of Art

Pierre Auguste Renoir

Self Portrait-Rembrandt van Rijn

Georges Seurat

Frans Hals

Mary Cassatt

El Greco
Vincent van Gogh

Jan Vermeer

Vista from a Grotto-1630's-David Teniers

John Singleton Copley

What's missing, of course, is the background decor and the proper understanding of the size of the sculptures and  photos. Many of the old paintings were large enough to take up an entire wall. So here's the most valuable  lesson I've learned: go to the web sites ahead of time and study about the museums. There is information on every museum including which metro stop is closest. That's what I call a good source of information. Smithsonian Link and one I should have used before my trip to DC. This picture sums up my chagrin over it.

Edouard Manet

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