Smithsonian Air and Space, History Museum and National Archives

It is easy to see the Smithsonian Air and Space, History Museum and National Archives in one day. All three are big hits for different reasons.

Air and Space Museum

Air and Space Museum is a family favorite because it is interactive and fun. There is a 3D Imax movie theater that plays new releases after 5:00. This is a great museum to hit after lunch because you can end your day at the movies!

Smithsonian Air and Space museum gives an excellent history of the industry, however it is not cutting edge. It you are wanting to see the latest and greatest this is not the place. The technology showcased id out of date. You will leave with an appreciation of how air and space has come. The hands on discovery area is excellent! It is a great way to learn about basic physics and scientific principles for all ages.

Discovery Area at the Air and Space Museum.

National Archives

The National Archives is home to the nation’s founding documents. It is open to the public. There are no pictures of inside the building because taking them is not allowed as to the safety and preservation of the flag and documents contained here. In addition to the first American flag, one can find the constitution, Bill of Rights and 10 Amendments.

Smithsonian National American History Museum

The first thing one sees when entering the Smithsonian National American History Museum is the Bat Mobil from the Batman movie.

The museum can get quite crowded so it is best to start on the third floor and work down. My oldest was excited to find Kermit the Frog in glass case on the top floor. Though one would think this museum would be full of older items from our Founding Fathers there is also lots of pop culture that every generation recognizes.

The First Ladies Dress Collection along with each President’s China is fantastic to see. The china was an unexpected surprise. The stories behind the sets gave insight into the first families that have served in the White house. It is fun to see the correlation between the china sets to the dresses the First Ladies wore. You could see their personalities and a little glimpse into who there were as individuals. Some of the First Ladies opted not to get sets and use what was in the White house. Others just ordered more to what was there. The First Lady is responsible for hosting dinners and such. Having appropriate dinnerware is crucial.

There was another area that was fun. It was like the pop culture walk down memory lane. I felt old when I saw things from my childhood — like the “See and Say”. Julia Child’s kitchen was also on display along with Sesame Street puppets.

Of course there were national treasures like President Lincoln’s top hat and remains of ships that sailed into harbors during the Civil War.

Please check out the first blog post on traveling to Washington DC here.

Until next time ~ Happy Travels!

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Washington DC – Smithsonian Art Museum

I thought this would be my least favorite museum, but I adored the Washington DC — Smithsonian Art Museum! Ironically my least favorite section was the contemporary art, but I still liked it. I appreciate art that incorporates history, social issues and creativity to invoke emotion. One section of the gallery did this beautifully. Some pieces offended me, but I still respected and adored them because they forced a strong reaction from me.

The Smithsonian Art Museum was so much more than I expected. A half day is all I thought I would need to wander the halls and see the paintings. My intention when I visited was not so much to enjoy it, but to do it because I had to as an artist. I grew up sitting in galleries full of oil paintings with my Grandma. I thought this would be similar only on a larger scale.  Nothing could be farther from the truth. The museum was the most spectacular gallery I have ever stepped foot in. Here is only a small portion of what the Smithsonian Art Museum houses.

The Classics

Here are a few pieces of gorgeous iconic art that one would assume would be in a museum of this stature:

American History Portrayed

The Smithsonian Art Museum is known as one of the leading art galleries in the world. However, it is evident that it is an American museum that puts a lot of emphasis on showcasing American history, issues and politics through art. 

The Hall of Presidents

The hall of presidents houses portraits done of every American president. Each president choose who painted them. By choosing who painted them it also dictated the personal style of each and gives the viewer a deeper view into past nation leaders psyches. 

Play on Lights

Some pieces are touring through the Smithsonian Art Museum including a series that uses light to create shadows.

Contemporary Art

The contemporary wing of the museum showcased modern pieces. My favorite was the life like image of a woman sitting at a table eating her lunch. I thought she was a real person for the first 20 minutes I was wandering around the wing. I only noticed she was not real, but a piece of art, when I got closer and thought how odd it was for someone to have groceries and eating lunch in that spot. 

The Human Body

The human body was on display in many areas of the museum. 

Mixed Media

One of the traveling displays was a series of mixed media pieces.

Deconstructed Portraits

The last wing I walked was my favorite because it showcased deconstructed portraits. The gallery contained art by Titus Kaphar in which the rules of portraiture are manipulated to expose the marginalization of African Americans. He takes historical Anglo-European portraits and puts African Americans as the subjects in them. Kaphar physically assaults the paintings so African Americans are not left unseen like they have been by traditional art museums. Kaphar pushes the viewer to confront the absence of the importance African Americans have played in United States history. 

The Smithsonian Art Museum is a must when traveling in the Washington DC area. Allow yourself a day, drink plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes. There are lots of spots to sit and reflect on what you are visually taking in. Give yourself time and let the art speak to you no matter what kind of emotion it invokes. One art enthusiast I spoke with at the museum said that he hated the deconstructed portraits because they made him angry. I told him that is exactly why I enjoyed them. They provoked strong emotion.

Until next time ~ Happy Travels! 

Betz Golden

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum and Castle

Before we traveled to Washington DC, I had everyone write down their top three places they wanted to visit. My oldest’s picked The Natural History Museum.

Smithsonian Natural History Museum

Dinosaurs!

We all thoroughly enjoyed it. The dinosaur section was excellent with two huge dinosaur exhibits featuring the skeletons of each.

Visitors were able to view the lab from the museum floor. . It was great to see paleontologists working!

Butterfly Exhibit

We went into the butterfly exhibit and enjoyed watching four different types.

The Origins of Man

The Neanderthal on display was fascinating. He provides the first scientific evidence of murder. The origins of man exhibit was of great interest to us all.

The line to get into the museum can be quite long. However, the grounds are fun to look at. We could not resist a picture with this guy:

Pavilion Cafe

It took us half the day to get through the museum. We decided to take a break and grab lunch at the Pavilion Cafe. It had a great selection of food. The cafe was located in the Gardens at the Smithsonian Art Gallery. Fantastic views and food about a 5 minute walk from the Natural History Museum.

Smithsonian Castle and Garden

The Smithsonian Castle and Gardens were just a short walk from the History Museum. I thought I would be most impressed with the castle. It was impressive, but the gardens were the shining star at this stop!

The inside of the castle was spectacular as well! It is important to always look up because ceilings on historical buildings are gorgeous.

This day was my boys’ favorite day spent in Washington DC. They enjoyed it so much that later in the week they returned to the Natural History Museum to take in the exhibits they did not spend much time in previously.

Until next time ~ Happy Travels!

Renwick Gallery

On the South side of the White House across the street is the most amazing art gallery featuring interactive and mixed media pieces. A lot of what is on display is just passing through, so what I saw there may be different than what you will see there. Regardless, it is spectacular!

The Burning Man was showcased in the gallery the day we visited. It was spectacular! As we entered the gallery we decided to start from the top floor and work our way downstairs. The first thing that caught our attention was amazing mushrooms that opened when you stood under them complete with beautiful lights.

 The next room was my son’s favorite of all. It was full of pillows that one lounged on and watched a digital light show above.

 He was mesmerized by it!

 The beauty of the gallery was not only the fabulous art, but also the presentation of it. One room lead to another and was part of the work. Every angle, shadow and light was considered not only in reference of the piece it was part of, but also the art around it.

 The play on lights through out the gallery was genius! In one room perfectly constructed metal pieces with delicate cuts used light to create a masterpiece.

 There was an entire room made up of intricate wood carvings. The walls and ceiling were part of it. Visitors were encouraged to write on the carvings and leave notes. 

Another room housed a  chalkboard wall encouraging visitors to write out their wish.

 Another  room featured  sculptures that were created with everyday objects. This dragon had a lot of kitchenware as his body.

 The costumes were magnificent and so creative.

 The artist of this sculpture did a wonderful job capturing the woman’s body in wire.

 My daughter was captivated with this piece. She actually got the best picture because she laid down on the floor to take it. No one in the gallery even gave her a second glance. Creative minds are welcome here!

 The final piece was a real stunner! It was made up of cardboard and had so many peep holes to look through. Here is just a sampling of this amazing piece a long with the peep holes.

Renwick Gallery is diffidently worth a day. I was only able to spend a few hours there, but hope to go back in the future.
Until next time ~ Happy Travels!

The Holocaust Museum, Old Ebbitt Grill, and The White House

In the summer of 2018 we went on a family vacation to Washington DC. This was one of those things I had on my parenting bucket list. It is so important to me that my kids know about their country and have a grasp on what it means to be an American as well as the history of our great nation. I waited until they were all teenagers to do this trip because I don’t think they could have gained as much from it at a younger age. It ended up being the best vacation of my life.

Here is our vacation and my diary of the trip.

Day 1

Holocaust Museum

This was probably not the best first activity for us to do. It was heavy and left an impact on each of us. Though it was a not the ideal start to our trip it was amazing! Things I learned: Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, known for his hate of the Jews. The leader did not like him, but the officials reassured him that Hitler could be reined in and controlled. I wonder how those that openly supported him could live with themselves after he was brought down. Did they ever come to realize they were wrong and cruel? We will either learn from history or repeat it. The art in the museum was impacting. It did a wonderful job of telling the story and putting emotion behind it. 
This hall was two stories tall with photographs of individuals who died in the Holocaust.

These gates were there!

 The most moving art piece that was both beautiful and heartbreaking. An all white exhibit that went through the process of the gas chamber.

 This is when I lost it. I could not control the tears. These are the shows of the people who died in concentration camps. The smell was still there.

 All that was left behind the cremated bodies were their shoes. Shoes had more value than the soul that used to walk in them to the Nazis.

 Memorial for the victims….

 The museum had a section for children to visit that explained it in a way they would understand. My son was so moved by this experience that he left a note. He just wrote “Why?’

 My oldest son was deep in thought the rest of the day. We will never forget.

Old Ebbitt Grill:

This was the first restaurant we ate at and our favorite! We went back several times. Not only was the food delicious it also has a rich history. It is the oldest saloon in the area. Teddy Roosevelt is rumored to have bagged the walrus over the bar. To this day politicians, celebrities and journalist dine here. 

The White House

This was not my first time to DC. I visited in 1989 and was able to go into the White House with my little brother and Mom. It is far more protected now than it was back in the 80’s. There were barricades in front of the gate and snipers in 4 spots that we could see on the roof. I expected lots of protesting, however the crowds were peaceful advocating for love and understanding. It was refreshing to say the least! 

Walking:

 I just have to take a moment to state how awesome DC is to walk in. My very favorite part of the trip was walking from place to place with a locally crafted iced coffee in my hand. These are some of the awesome buildings we saw today!

 This is the national church that always has a pew reserved for the president. Presidents have been known to worship here!

 Even our condo building was cool! I loved walking home to it every night.

Until next time ~ Happy travels!