Last Saturday, after attending the NATS regional competition with one of my incredibly talented students :), I left the University of Maryland and had about 3 hours to kill in Washington DC (one of my favorite places to visit). So, for the first time ever, I went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. As with any other Smithsonian museum, I was not disappointed. I would have loved a couple of extra hours to finish touring the place sufficiently.
These two museums share one of Washington’s oldest, public buildings. This landmark was built in Greek Revival style, from 1836 to 1868. I must say, I was also impressed with the architecture of the courtyard, which opened in 2007. It is absolutely stunning, exhibiting a contemporary glass dome (pretty huge). The day was very cold, but the courtyard was nice and cozy, filled with natural sunlight. Next time I’m in DC, I’ll go there and sit for a while. Maybe I’ll order a cup of coffee and journal. It is simply beautiful.
Among my favorite exhibitions were the Time Magazine Covers from the 60’s (which runs until August of this year), and the permanent collection of paintings of all our American presidents, in the Portrait Gallery. The museum displays both American art and American history. The combination of those two, made me a very happy camper. 🙂
William Jefferson Clinton. Oil on Canvas. Chuck Close
George W. Bush. Oil on Canvas. Robert Anderson.
Lizette and I visited the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond.
Cannot say it was a “fun” experience because there is nothing fun about walking through memories of atrocities and pain. It was, however, insightful and necessary.
I traveled to Poland years back and I visited Auschwitz concentration camp. I remember it clearly because it made a deep impression on me. I was expecting to feel some of the same emotions when I went to the local museum. I was pleased to find this less painful. However, in some ways, it hit a little closer to home because the gallery is filled with stories from local survivors. In fact, the audio from the guided tour was recorded by a Richmond survivor himself, who told his own story along the way.
In my opinion, everyone should visit their local Holocaust museum at least once in their lifetime. We owe it to ourselves to remember what happened. If you live in RVA or visit this area, I recommend this place. Admission is free. The layout of the building is user friendly, taking you easily from one section to the next without the need to backtrack. It will take about an hour to walk through the loop and you can either use their audio guide or simply read the information and go at your own pace.
A tribute to heroes who protected and cared for the persecuted
Life size reproductions of pictures of those being liberated and replicas of American soldiers
Life-size replica of a scene during the Nuremberg trials, with actual footage playing in the background.
Nazi flag, conveniently placed on floor so everyone can step on it.