Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday in D.C.

This morning we got up and had breakfast at the M Street Bar & Grill. It’s located just across the street from the CBS building. While eating, Dianne noticed several camera crews setting up at the CBS building entrance. We didn’t recognize the gentleman who came out the door, but he stopped and answered questions for the reporters. I checked the Face the Nation web site and found out the guy was Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. That’s our brush with greatness during the trip.

DCPics3 023AWe started out the day at the National Archives. Unlike the movie ‘National Treasure’ where Nicholas Cage just waltzes into the rotunda area to see the Declaration of Independence, we had to go through a rigorous screening where all gum was purged. It was crowded in the document area and dimly lit to protect the documents. Although you could take pictures without a flash, the Constitution and the Declaration were so faded they were difficult to read in person. I could barely see John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration. All in all, I wasn’t too wowed by the experience. The principles the founding fathers put in the documents seem way more important than the faded documents themselves. Interestingly, just outside the rotunda there was one of the four copies of the Magna Carta that was approximately 700 years old and yet was much easier to read. Here is a shot of the National Archives building from across the street in the sculpture garden. Note the person in the red hat.

DCPics3 004A After visiting the Archives we went to the National Gallery of Art. It is a large museum and there is a lot to see. I enjoyed the Impressionist art (or the lumpy stuff as Dianne likes to say) and the Netherland/German realism art. These schools represent two extremes of realistic, almost photographic representations of still lifes or people and a blurry, overall impression of a subject conveyed as much through color and lighting as in shape. Dianne enjoyed the more contemporary American paintings (Sargent, Homer, etc.) as well as paintings by the Masters like Rembrandt and Durer. Dianne also wanted to check out the special exhibit on Venetian drawings, but they were more watercolor and gouache type media than strictly pen and ink or pencil drawings.

After seeing the indoor art, we went across the street to the sculpture garden. There were a lot of nice flowers and landscaping, a few large sculptures, and a large pond & fountain. People were sitting on the edge of the pond with their feet dangling in the water to cool off. Dianne called it the fountain of feet (see the picture above). One of my favorite sculptures in the garden was that of a large typewriter eraser. DCPics3 037A Another, which really didn’t photograph well in two dimensions, was a representation of a house which from a long way off followed perfect lines of perspective. However, up close, you noticed the different walls of the house and the roof tilted opposite of the way they would meet at the actual corner of the house. It was like they were inverted from their normal perspective – almost like the house was turned inside out. I thought it was a very clever play on perspective. I also got a picture of Dianne near a sculpture made from concrete cubes showing her counting the blocks like one of the exercises in the Big Brain Academy game. Some of the sculptures were strange – or I guess I wasn’t able to appreciate them. For example, this sculpture was just a metal plate with rounded corners. Go figure!

You can see a collection of photos from the National Gallery and the Sculpture Garden by clicking here for the Flickr group.

After the sculpture garden, we walked to the International Spy Museum. There isn’t any photography allowed in the museum. It covered the basics of becoming a spy and the techniques and gadgets they use as well as many blurbs about spies throughout history. Personally, I liked the gadgets like .22 caliber cigarettes, spy cameras, bugs, etc. It’s a nice museum, but a lot of reading so I’m not sure how well it would be received by kids.

Dianne’s feeling a bit better, but still not eating too much. Surprisingly, she actually asked me to slow down while walking and she didn’t wander away much today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like, how about a picture of the Washington Monument that's in the center of the Smithsonian Lawn? :) PUH_LEASE. Yeah, we miss you here.. its just too damn quiet.. wait, no it's not. Wait until you see the nasty gram Palmer put out.. HAHAH.. Safe travels, hope D starts feeling better soon.. -CARLA-