The original Smithsonian Institution building known as "the Castle" as viewed from the National Mall.
Note: This is the second of three planned posts on our recent vacation to Washington DC.
We marked the east-west extremes of the National Mall in my last travelogue post. Between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial lies a magnificent public space roughly divided by the Washington Monument. (Actually the monument is about a half-mile closer to the memorial than to the Capitol.) Beyond the monument the Mall is dominated by the giant reflecting pool. Between the monument and the Capitol stands several major galleries and museums of the Smithsonian Institution. It was there that Jennifer and I spent much of our time on our recent venture to DC.
The magnificent Interior of the National Gallery of Art Rotunda featuring a fountain adorned by the Roman god Mercury. Jennifer took these interior pics which I greatly reduced to appropriate blog size.
A hallway in the National Gallery leading to one wing of the many rooms containing paintings, sculptures, and other art exhibitions.
These green spaces and water features within the National Gallery allow the visitor to refresh their senses in order to maintain a proper appreciation of the artworks to admire within this large and famous collection.
Jacques-Louis David's Napoleon in His Study painted in 1812.
Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevrra de' Benci painted on wood (not canvas) in 1474.
A licensed copyist at the National Gallery continues her study of a Vincent van Gogh self-portrait.
One of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's many splendid portrait works with me in photo to give it some scale.
|Another Renoir, Woman of Algiers, 1870.|
|A delicately detailed Auguste Rodin hand study from 1917.|
A replica of the Hubble Space Telescope alongside a complete Apollo space capsule in the National Air and Space Museum.
This room installation impressed both of us, however. Jennifer took her shoes off and wondered around inside. There was a surreal quietude about it to me.
For me the best moment was a rare instance of installation art that impressed me. It was a boxed-in room filled with hundreds of square post-it notes each written in pencil and in different hand writing. The effect was to give the space a brownish-yellow hue. The floor was covered in bee's wax encasing more post-it notes. A guard was stationed at the doorway to make sure no one entered unless they wore booties or went barefoot. An oscillating fan over the doorway caused a few notes to flutter in a gentle breeze periodically. Near the far wall was a simple glassed-in exhibit of two fresh cabbages being slowly devoured by snails. I know this all sounds weird but that is the nature of contemporary art and installations. The effect was impressive and Jennifer and I lingered longer there than we did at most other art pieces up to that point.
|Part of Julia Child's kitchen in the National Museum of American History.|
As the interpretive signage reads, this is the world's largest flawless quartz sphere. I am in the background and partially reflected in the gigantic crystal ball.
Lots of visitors to the National Museum of Natural History crowded around to take photos of the truly priceless Hope Diamond.
The next day we visited the National Postal Museum which was conveniently located next to Union Station. Jennifer has always been an avid stamp collector and has maintained a large collection since before we were married. After a trip on the metro into deeper DC (see future post), we returned to the Mall. The metro stop in the middle of the Mall put us right in front of the Freer Gallery of Art where enjoyed more wonderful paintings, especially seeing John Singer Sargent's work Breakfast in the Loggia. The placement of this piece made it so special. The architecture in the painting was similar to that of the Freer at the point where it was displayed.
Another instance of Jennifer taking a photo of me taking a photo along with the photo that I took. Here we are in the inspiring stairwell of the National Museum of African Art.
The United States Botanic Garden is located next to the Capitol Building. It offers several outdoor walking paths as well as a large conservatory collection.
The Smithsonian galleries and museums along the National Mall offer a collection of art, science, and history unique to the world. Few public spaces compare with this vast collection of knowledge in the shadow of the nation's Capitol building. It is worth noting that there is only one building along the National Mall area that is a private headquarters rather than a public hall. That is the American Pharmacists Association. We did not visit there. Hello? Obamacare, hello?