2) The National Gallery of Art, East Wing
There was also a specially selected group of contemporary works grouped according to a theme, like Drip, Concentricity, Gesture, etc. The juxtaposition of styles and media was very creative and we saw a number of great pieces we'd never seen before.
Then we had fun riding the people-mover backwards and forwards several times to see (and be in) the light sculpture, Multiverse, by Leo Villareal. In the video below you are moving backwards from the East Wing to the Cascade Cafe in the West Wing for your Thanksgiving dinner. Commentary provided by several anonymous teenagers.
Who was eating their holiday dinner in the cafe at 3 in the afternoon? Families, grandparents,parents, teenagers, children, and babies in strollers. Dressed up fancy and dressed down casual. It wasn't very crowded at all and everyone seemed happy and relaxed. I thanked the server who plopped the turkey and all the fixings on my plate and she blushed.
We still wonder "Who are all these people in this museum?" and often watch the middle-age kids who don't seem to pay attention to anything as they fool around. Somehow, as if by magic, the art must imprint in their hyperactive little brains and then they grow up to be....? I'd like to say we spent an equal amount of time in the West Wing but instead we headed back to the hotel, thankful for a late nap. Being a tourist is hard work.
1) A walk past the White House again, just in time to see the public White House Christmas tree being delivered on a horse-drawn wagon. Naturally, security was strict, everyone was moved two blocks away from the White House and the sniffer dogs were out and moving around. We waited a bit but the occupants of the White House didn't seem to be answering their doorbell so the wagon and driver were just sitting there. The sun was finally shining, everyone was happy to be there and Mr. IronPumper knew exactly where the tree was going. If you look fast you'll see a glimpse of me walking past.
2) The Renwick Gallery.
A small museum devoted to American craft -- there is always something interesting here and they do a good job of rotating their permanent collection pieces. A new acquisition was on display: Karen LaMonte, Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery (shown below). This beautiful life-size dress figure is made of cast glass and is so large it has to cool for over 40 hours after being fired. It is an amazing piece and it is completely incomprehensible to me that someone could be so skillful in creating it. Out of glass.
3) The National Museum of Women in the Arts
On this trip we voted this museum's special exhibitions our trip favorites. We saw Lands of Enchantment: Australian Aboriginal Paintings. We saw Hard Copy: Books as Art. We saw Telling Secrets: Codes, Captions, and Conundrums in Contemporary Art.
Susan, who will talk to anyone, dead or alive, chatted to a docent, Ed Williams, who wound up giving us a special private tour of his favorite paintings, including one by Joan Mitchell that he and his family had helped fund restoration for. Joan Mitchell had an incredible eye for color and we were lucky enough to see a special show of her work a few years ago. The image below is not the painting at the museum but is similar in style.
Then Ed scrounged up some keys and unlocked the library just for Susan to see a display of Books as Art from their permanent collection. Thank you, Ed!!!
I'd like to give you some images but of course there is no photography allowed in most special exhibits, only in permanent collections. Usually my Blog Wrangler pulls and identifies images from a museum's website to give you some samples of their art but unfortunately this museum's website had only very poor images.
We spent so much time here we never made it to the National Building Museum.
And that, patient blog readers, is what we do on a vacation: museums, museums, museums. And more museums. Museums from 10 in the morning until 5 or 6 at night. Lunch in museum cafes. We always say "Next time... " when we don't manage to see everything in a museum so there is always something to look forward to on the next visit.
Why are so many of the museums in Washington DC part of the "Smithsonian"? Because the founder, James Smithson, donated a huge chunk of money in the 1800's to establish and institution for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge." The main website gives you links to these museums and most of them have lots of images and information. Go here and you'll find a lot of art-related information and the option MyCollection lets you create your own "scrapbook" of images. Mr. Smithson was British and he never even visited the United States. Thank you, Mr. Smithson. we'll be back next year, as nearly every Smithsonian and National museum in Washington DC is open on Thanksgiving Day.
P.S. Graffiti Man was spotted 3 times on this trip, each time within 3 blocks of the White House. American Airlines didn't lose our luggage because we didn't check luggage. Mike at the Hilton Garden Inn had a smile for us every day. The DC Metro is a true blessing. The weather was cloudy, gray, drizzly and windy except for a few hours of sun on Friday. Amazingly, the TV weatherpeople in DC get their forecasts as screwed-up as they do in Austin.