Cultural Weekend – Part 1A – Saturday


A friend came to town from Hawaii – luckily she stayed in a hotel so I didn't have to work like a maniac to make our house guest-friendly.   She was also feeling a little cold so on Saturday we did an indoor activity -  The National Portrait Gallery:  

  This building is a National Historic Landmark and is an example of Greek Revival architecture.  Construction began in 1836 and was completed 1868 – it was one of the first public buildings built in early Washington.  Porticos are modeled after the Parthenon in Athens, there is a curving double staircase, colonnades and vaulted galleries. It is joined to The Smithsonian American Art Museum and at times it is difficult to know when you've left one and entered the other.  The two buildings surround the Kogod Courtyard with its glass covered canopy:

  Theodore Roosevelt had this Steinway "Gold Grand" designed to match the newly renovated White House in 1903.  It is adorned with the original 13 State seals and is gilt in goldleaf.  Artist Thomas Wilmer Dewing painted the lid and titled it "America Receiving the Nine Muses" :


I didn't take a photo of this actual portrait but I found the description really amusing (and yes, she looked tired):

I loved Strong Woman and Child 1925 – Yasuo Kuniyoshi:  perhaps this is Mrs Green in comic guise:  

  I also liked this which I think was titled The Library -  I failed to note either the name or the artist.

This one had a gorgeous colour co-ordinating frame – but reading the fine print revealed it was recreated rather than a restored frame:

There was a special exhibition of Presidential cover art Time magazine  – no photos allowed past this point.

There is a large area dedicated to portraits of all the Presidents -  the Nation's only complete collection of Presidential portraits outside the White House.  This is the one I found most interesting.  Apparently quite a few of you may have had a portion of this portrait in your schools and wondered why George had clouds around his shoulder:  


The Adams Memorial was fascinating.  Some weekend I intend to look for Clover's gravesite at Rock Creek churchyard where the original sculpture was erected in 1891. Augustus Saint-Gaudens called it "The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding"   The public called it "Grief".   

Here is a collection of some of my favourites (click on any one a couple of times to make it larger).  I think I've just realised that I need a Part IB post to complete my trip to the museum. And, that's before I even mention that I went to the Chinese New Year Parade held in DC today  which was going to be Part 2 of my cultural w/end!



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23 responses

  1. I guess in DC you don't have to worry about finding someplace to take a visitor. Here it's … "Hey, there's another cow!"I knew why the G. Washington painting wasn't finished … but did not realize it was to be a portrait of Martha too, and had never seen the whole canvas. Interesting …

  2. The history of the piano was interesting and it really was gorgeously decorated. I was actually very happy with how my photos turned out considering I was not using a flash.

  3. I guess in DC you don't have to worry about finding someplace to take a visitor. And, you know what is really, really good – all the Smithsonian galleries, including the National Zoo, are free! We get so used to free admission that we are quite shocked when we go out of town and see what people have to pay to get into museums in other cities. The Martha painting hangs in the same section – but I didn't photograph it.

  4. You don't have to pay to visit places? Wow. That would be wonderful. I checked the other day and it costs about $10 to visit out Art Museum, and we have to pay if we go to the Aquarium, the Children's Museum, and many other places like that. Too bad because I would love to visit more of them and would if they did not charge an entrance fee!

  5. I really need someone local to go to the art museum with. The wife isn't for all that walking around and the kids, except for Wookie Girl, are kind of art poo-pooish. Maybe I can sync up with Wookie Girl and do the Dad-Daughter thing and then go have lunch… Hmmm…

  6. When the weather is too cold or to hot to be outside it is a good idea to visit this museum which seems interesting for art lovers. All that for free, it is impossible to miss it !

  7. Free entrance museum, you can take photos inside (WOW), ehat else?Amazing, here in Italy you cannot even take a photo outside (well, sort of), without being considered a terrorist…Thank you, maybe I will have a trip to DC sooner or later.

  8. The goldleaf Steinway is pretty and I loooove the dragon. Great photos, you captured them well, I bet the lighting is hard on photos in there (at least, it is when we're in museums).
    Funny, we put up guests in hotels all the time – even if our house were guest friendly, we're too much privacy freaks (that plus only one bathroom…)

  9. Wow what a great place I already love the one photo you shot of a painting now I need to find out who what where about that painting I hate my addictive personality when it comes to things that catch my eye love that I can see the paint strokes in your photos as well! Love the Golden Grand but it would take a lot of decorating to make it fit a room now a day's that is the one thing about the big city they have so many of these great places to go!

  10. Yes – we are really spoilt having the Smithsonian museums and galleries here. There are other galleries in DC where there is an entrance fee or where general entry to permanent exhibitions might be free but they charge for "special" exhibitions.

  11. I hope you get to do the father-daughter outing. My appreciation of museums and galleries has grown with age! 🙂 Actually, that's not strictly true – when younger I would go and "look" but was not really interested in reading any of the descriptions.

  12. We are so lucky in Washington to have a lot of museums and galleries associated with the Smithsonian Institute – they are all free and they are wonderful to spend time in.

  13. We could only take photos of items in the permanent collection none of the "special exhibitions". They also do not like you to use flash photography. I was taking photos inside the Santa Maria Novella church in Florence when the attendants came and shouted at me – they did not make me delete them though 🙂

  14. The Steinway was really gorgeous! It was a more golden colour than what my photo portrays – as you say, due to lighting and hand-holding my camera with no flash on! I don't mind people staying with us – people used to stay with us when we lived in a one-bed room apartment – they would arrange themselves on the loungeroom floor. Myself – I prefer to stay in a hotel rather than people's places.

  15. I was really quite pleased with how the photos turned out given the low lighting and trying to keep my hands steady. Which painting is bugging you? I might remember what it is called….

  16. Oh yes – you must go. We were there for 3 hours and didn't see it all (though if you didn't read all the descriptive notes you could probably whiz through it). If I was going to do it for the first time now (with the benefit of hindsight) I would check out the website and plan my visit better.

  17. The piano was simply gorgeous – I wanted to touch the keys! The dragon is carved and painted on the frame of the picture just above it here (the young ladies dancing on a lawn). It is an exact replica of the original frame – they have meticulously matched the colours.

  18. Wondering through a museum or gallery is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in another world. There were so many wonderful works – it was hard to choose which photos to post – I had to do a second post today!

  19. I'd love to see this! I have always wanted to take a week or so and go through as many of the Smithsonian Museums as I can in that time as well. I went when I was in third grade, but all I really remember is the dinosaurs and the Hope Diamond. I'd really like to see the American History museum….do you know if they have reopened it? I read somewhere that it was closed for renovations awhile ago.
    Btw—it looks like we are going to share some of your snow troubles today! My section of the state is scheduled to get between 1-2 feet of heavy, wet snow, with snowfall rates of 1-3 inches per hour. I see some tag-team shoveling ahead for the hubby and myself today….yuck!

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