Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Museums, Galleries and More!!! FOR FREE!

One thing that we have loved and are still loving about D.C, is that most museums are free.  Mostly the Smithsonian Museums and History Museums and Galleries, but don't let the FREE price tag deter you from how amazing they are!  Some cities have free museums/galleries and they are free for a reason...but not D.C!  They are beautiful in both art and achitecture, and you can spend hours being cultured, without spending a penny!  As Graham was busy ALL day, I decided to walk the National Mall, AGAIN, the entire 2 miles of it, stopping at the galleries and museums along the way.

My stops were: The National Art Gallery, The Smithsonian Castle (to map out my "plan of attack"), The Freer Art Gallery, the Sackler Art Gallery, The National Archives and if time permitted, the Air and Space Museum (time ran out, as did my walking tolerance by then, so no go on the last one!).  Not only did I walk over 4 miles in total before 4pm, but I broke my flip flops (the only shoes that fit on my VERY swollen feet and ankles right now).

It was a MAGNIFICENT DAY, with a few unexpected and VERY fun stops in between sightseeing, as the 46 degrees with humidity, KILLED me and my sanity many times!  It really is HOT here, HOT like I drank 8 bottles of water between 8am and noon, HOT!!!  Yikes!  I have the most ridiculous flip flop tan now, but my spirit is really enjoying being back outside again, after a long stint of not being able to move too much for long periods of time!

First stop:  The Smithsonian Castle.  The building and the grounds really are striking.

The Freer Art Gallery and the Sackler Gallery are attached through an underground passage.  They had some beautiful Dutch, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese exhibits.

Chinese Vases and Washing Bowls.  The colour really reminds me of Dutch Delft pottery.

Thai watering jugs.  The bigger jugs, years ago, were passed down from generation to generation, as a thing of pride on the amount of people they could host/feed.

I thought this was super cool.  It is a Burmese pot, with antlers attached to it.

A GORGEOUS handmade robe from China.  It dated back to the 1800's, and was so ornate in person, it was breathtaking.  I could imagine some emperor years ago wearing it.

Chinese hair pins.  They were worn by the rich.

One of my favourite hand painted silk prints.

Vietnamese urns and tea pots.  The colour was so serene and I would love to have something like this in my kitchen one day, as a conversation piece to serve tea in.

These are Chinese "bells".  They don't have a ball in the centre (I tried to check to confirm, as the alarm went off, and I got in trouble for getting closer than 1 foot- who knew you can't even bend down and peek from 1 foot away!?!?!?!).  They are struck on the back and sides, giving two very different tones on each section.

A very colourful Thai Buddha.

This was a favourite.  I walked right past this enscription, wondering where the art was, turned around and saw these letters hanging in the stairwell through the window.  GREAT and unique way to show art!

Next, the Freer Gallery.

Knives and Daggers.  Graham would have loved seeing these!

The COOLEST translucent, hand painted bowls and vases from Vietnam!  I was mesmorized by them!

Hand painted, hand thrown bowls and vases.  The bowl next, was incredibly detailed and beautiful!


The hallway between Sackler and Freer Gallery.

Warriors from various eras.

Some REALLY cool masks, worn during war.

A headless Buddha.  I don't remember what it stood for, but it was strange to look at!

Some SUPER cool Vietnamese serving bowls!

Tools from the 1600's in Southeast Asia.

Next, the Hirshhorn Museum.  It is a contemporary art gallery and sculpture garden.  I didn't spend much time here, as it was too contemp for my liking, and I just didn't "get" the art.  To each their own, I guess.

It looked like a space ship to me, and was really ODD to look at.

Some of the sculptures out front.

This art piece in the gallery, was all about horizon lines across the world.  It was in a really cool, dark room, but did NOT do much for the eye.

This was part of the FULL MOON exhibit and was made of dead animal heads.  Interesting?

I left here, after only visiting the 2nd floor and moved on to the National Art Gallery.  I think I am an old fashioned art lover.

The architecture INSIDE and OUT of here, is incredible!  Now, that's more like it to me!

Some of my favourite paintings, were the Rembrandts, DaVinci and Thomas Cole.

If I could paint, I would have loved to choose THIS as my space.  It's bright, inspiring and secluded.

The Crucifixion.

The Small Crucifixion, by Matthias Grunewald.  1511/1520.

I was FASCINATED that artists can apply to paint here and use originals as guides.  I spoke with this lady, and she said, it is really hard to get accepted and a huge HONOUR.  WOW.  Imagine THIS was your working space/inspiration daily!

She was so focused and had a beautiful way about her while she painted.  I could NOT have done this with 1,000's of people watching me daily!

Raphael by Bindo Altoviti.  1515.

A view of my first da Vinci in person. 

Every grown man in the gallery HAD to take their picture posing here.  Oh dear. The Emperor Napolean in his Study at the Tuileries by Jacque-Louis David. 1812.

More artists at work.  Amazing.

A few more favourite pieces.  Sadly, I don't remember the artist, but they are beautiful!

The sculpture garden outside the Gallery.

Next, I went to the National Archives.  Having lived in the States for 4 years, I really wanted to get a taste of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and other archived documents.  You are not allowed to take pictures inside, but trust me, it was moving and fascinating to read original documents that shaped this country.  I have a LOT of Canadian pride, but I also have American pride from living here and loving it here.  Everyone should see these in their lifetime.  The building inside and the history itself, is an experience not to be missed!

Next, I stumbled upon lunch on the street and something to cool me down.  It was SUPER hot, and I was burning.  I ran out of water (8 bottles later and a fountain to fill it up), so I was THRILLED to run into these two FOOD TRUCKS!!!!!!!  I love the show EAT ST. on Food Network, and was excited for my first real food truck run in!  My original plan was lunch first, then popsicle, but the line was quite big for the tacos and it was hot.  Why not a popsicle while waiting to order?!?!?

Pleasant pops makes all of their popsicles homemade.  Their flavours were Strawberry Ginger Lemonade, Blueberry pancake, Corn and Sweet Cream, Thai Coconut Curry Cream, Cucumber Chili and a few more.  I tried the Thai Coconut Curry and it was heavenly.  A strange flavour for a popsicle, but so delicious and it worked so well!

The line up for Takorean, the Korean BBQ taco truck.

I had the Korean Beef, and 2 Korean chicken tacos with a lime cream, sriracha, slaw and toasted sesame seeds.  They were delicious and quite spicy!

Later tonight, I met Graham to go for a picnic and free concert at the Kennedy Centre.  It was a concert put on by the Choctaw nation in Oklahoma and brought back memories of living there!  It was great to see a free concert and have a picnic along the river.  We then went onto Founding Farmers, a restaurant that is serving local and farm fresh food, but it was an hour wait, so we made reservations for another day!  Can't wait, as the food looks INCREDIBLE!  They serve a daily caramel corn special, made in a cast iron skillet.  I think it might be heaven when we go!  That and they serve bacon cocktails and bacon lollipops! 

Another AMAZING day in D.C.  When I down load more photos, I will update this with the Kennedy Centre photos.  It truly is magical there.


The indoors of the Kennedy Centre!  GORGEOUS!

Where we had our picnic before the clouds came in!

We thought that it might rain and help cool down the temp a bit, but NOPE!  Still over 35 degrees when we came out at 7pm!


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