Thursday, November 08, 2007

Museums galore

I'm a *bit* of a planner, so before we set off on a trip, I always make husband pick the sights he'd most like to see so that I don't dominate the itinerary with all the things I want to do. With him being interested in science, and me being interested in literature, art, and history, we have quite different tastes, although they do often overlap. We both love learning about WWII history, for example.

At the top of my list was the Holocaust Museum, but I'll save that for a separate post. On my last trip to D.C. I went to two places that thrilled me, but husband probably wouldn't enjoy them: the Library of Congress and the Folger Shakespeare Library. This time I wanted to see the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection if we had time, but as long as we went to the Holocaust Museum, I was going to be happy. Husband wanted to go to the top of the Washington Monument, see the Air & Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the zoo, if possible. We didn't make the zoo or the Phillips Collection, but we squeezed in everything else.

I didn't get to see as much of the National Gallery as I would have liked, but I did a 'highlights' tour of the paintings I most wanted to see: the French Impressionists collection, the JMW Turner exhibit, the only da Vinci in the western hemisphere, and the Rembrandt's. I probably could have skipped Turner since I studied him while in London and saw the Tate's fabulous collection--where much of this exhibit was on loan from--but I love Turner, and I couldn't resist. Two paintings on our tour particularly delighted me, so I bought a print of one (the other wasn't available as a print) and postcards of the others: Monet's The Houses of Parliament, Sunset and Monet's Rouen Cathedral, West Facade. I think I shall be redecorating soon, and The Houses of Parliament will look lovely over my desk.

The Air & Space Museum was interesting, but the WWI and WWII exhibits were closed for some construction/restoration work, and they probably interested me more than the rest of the museum combined. The Wright brothers collection was interesting to see as was Amelia Earhardt's plane, and I found the space exhibits amusing because all the machines looked like sci fi creations or tin foil fakes. They did have a German V-2 rocket and Messerschmidt plane on display, which were amazing to see. Husband was actually a little let down by the A&S Museum because he visited it in his teens, but thought he had missed a lot of it and in fact had not. He wanted to see the WWI and WWII exhibits too, and he thought it was by far the most run down museum we visited. It was very oriented toward children. We did buy freeze-dried ice cream from the gift shop, which is supposedly what astronauts take into space, so we'll see if it's yummy or not.

The Natural History Museum delighted him though. He loved the mammals exhibit and the dinosaurs, meanwhile I just wanted to see the Hope Diamond. The Hope Diamond itself was gorgeous, but the display wasn't fantastic. It was in a four-sided case to allow more people to see it, and it rotated around, but there was no light shining down on it to illuminate the sparkling beauty. I suppose like the Mona Lisa, the sheer popularity of the item makes the exhibition of it difficult. I also wanted to see the Harry Winston exhibit, but I had no idea how large it would be and it ended up being my favorite exhibit at the museum. It was very shiny! All that glitters isn't gold - tanzanite, alexandrite, emeralds, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, oh my! Napoleonic necklaces and diadems. If it weren't for the crazy tourists snapping photos of every single display case without even glancing at the contents, and then stepping in front of you as you patiently await your turn to view the glass case, the exhibit would have been perfect.

Phew! And now I better return to writing my real novel...


hellojed said...

Great post, I love museums, sounds like you had a great time. I went to the Holocaust Museum in New York and it had a huge impact on me.

Kristen said...

I remember seeing the Hope diamond when I went with my parents years ago. It was definitely a highlight! Thanks for the post. It made for nice post-lunch reading. :-)

JJ said...

Oooh lovely trip. I love grown up museum trips. My son still talks about the freeze dried ice cream we bought in Edinburgh EIGHT years ago! I hope you enjoy it.

Lane said...

lordy you packed a lot in:-)
Sounds like a great trip and looking forward to H. Museum post.

Alix said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time, I must get to the National Gallery soon. I love Monet's Houses of Parliament paintings.
I'll be interested to hear what you thought about the Holocaust Museum as I haven't been yet.

Alfa King said...

Very informative. Sounds like you had a nice trip.

Angie said...

Hellojed, I love museums too - there's always something interesting to explore.

Kristen, the jewels were all so pretty! Glad it made good lunch reading. ;)

JJ, me too! So was the freeze dried ice cream good? We haven't tried it yet...maybe tonight.

Lane, yes, we always do. Husband insists our next vacation be at a beach because it'll be hard for me to have a packed itinerary and then we can relax...little does he know! ;) H. Museum post is up now. Hope you like it.

Alix, oh do visit the gallery, it's lovely! On Sun evening they have free orchestral concerts in the cafe too. We planned on going, but the line was too long. I definitely recommend you check out the H. Museum as well!

Alfaking, it was a lovely trip.