In April, I ventured into Washington, D.C. on both Saturday the 27 and Sunday the 28. I visited four different “museums” on my own and with friends. Here are my adventures!
I took the Huntington Metro into DC. It’s not my normal line, but they were doing track work on the blue line, so I decided going on the Yellow line would be faster.
This was one of the final weekends for the Birds of Paradise photography exhibit at the National Geographic Museum, so I didn’t want to miss it (I was born in Papua New Guinea where there are many birds of paradise). Plus, this is a museum I had never been to. I found the museum without much difficulty, paid admission (boy am I used to free museums in D.C.), and headed in. The Birds of Paradise exhibit was spectacular. The mission of these photographers to capture every single species on camera is interesting, noble, and difficult. The results were stunning and surprising. I was entranced by the mating dances, especially those never before captured on film. I was repulsed when I opened one cabinet (marked “Open Me!” and found birds of paradise that had been made into elaborate ladies’ hats.
Some of my favorite photos of the photos and exhibit are below:
I also went to the pirate exhibit at the museum. I do love pirates, and the exhibit focused partially on a recently recovered sunken pirate ship. The exhibit was informative but directed to kids quite a bit. Another fascinating exhibit at the National Geographic Museum was a display of photography that didn’t make it into the print versions of the magazine, due to space. So many of the photographs were remarkable and powerful–it’s so wonderful that they get to be seen even if there wasn’t room for them in the articles.
I headed home at the end of the day, got off the Metro, and then realized I wasn’t at the right parking garage. I knew there were other parking garages there, so I figured I needed to just walk to the other. I took an elevator and a footbridge and felt very foolish but I couldn’t figure out where I parked. So I went back into the station and told the Metro employee on duty that I thought I’d left out of the wrong exit. Assuming she’d tell me the way to get to the other parking deck or how to catch a shuttle to the other parking deck, I was surprised when she instead handed me something like a high school hall pass. I thought it was so funny, I had to take a photo:
I went back to the Huntington Metro–this time determined to remember where I parked! I got on board the train and immediately found an advertisement for the Birds of Paradise exhibit I’d just been to see the day before. How’s that for a funny coincidence?
I went straight to the National Gallery of Art, where I released a copy of The Swan Thieves that ended up getting picked up, read and enjoyed! As the book takes place at the National Gallery, it seemed like a perfect theme release. Looks like it was taken to London where it might get to visit another gallery of art. Lucky book :-) It occurred to me that the other book in my backpack, the one I was reading on the Metro, was The Gardner Heist. So I had two books in my possession and both were about stealing artwork from art museums. Luckily, this didn’t raise any suspicion by gallery security when I passed through the check.
I’ve had a little obsession with a piece of artwork entitled “Rubens Peale with a Geranium” by Rembrandt Peale (yes, the children in the family were named after famous artists; gotta love it). It was in my high school English classroom. It took me years to figure out what it was called and I was pleased to find out it was here at the National Gallery. So during this trip, I finally got to see it in person. I went to the museum shops to see if there was a print, but there wasn’t (later, I ended up buying one online at an art print-on-demand site). I was also pleased to see the exhibit of Pre-Raphaelite art now installed in the newly-renovated galleries. Pre-Raph art is my absolute favorite and it was a pleasure to see so much of it in person–a pleasant morning surprise.
Then I walked over to the U.S. Botanical Gardens, which I’d never visited before. I got there a few minutes late, but not many of my Harry Potter meetup friends were there already. Jesse arrived just in time to see me recovering from choking on rice cake I’d tried to eat on my walk over and ended up inhaling instead; how embarrassing! Kristen arrived next and we headed inside, later meeting up with another small group in our party. It was like stepping into a magical world, this building containing wonderful plants from all over the world.
Then we met up with others in our party and headed to a spot on the National Mall to picnic and attempt to fly kites. I say “attempt” because it was not a particularly windy day. And though the picnic was a lot of fun, the kite-flying was somewhat frustrating. None of us were experts in kites but we discovered that wind is a crucial component. In fact, I think my kite ($1.25 at Walmart) was the best because it was so light and flimsy.
Afterward, four of us headed to the museum of the American Indian to explore. I pointed out a few of the items that I’d included in the BookCrossing Convention literary scavenger hunt. We sat through the orientation–my first time ever seeing it–and it was such a wonderful presentation! I’m glad I got to see it.
After that, I headed home. It was an exhausting weekend but one packed with fun!