Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Hanging out at the Mall Washington DC, Wednesday, 26 October 2011 7:50pm

I spent almost the entire day at the Mall. The National Mall, that is. My feet are really tired.

I decided that it was probably best to take transit in to DC, rather than deal with parking my motorcycle. I took the train in to the Smithsonian station and started walking around.

I'd had the presence of mind to check the weather forecast, so I knew that I should do the outdoor attractions first. The Washington Monument is closed right now because of damage from the recent earthquake, so I couldn't actually go inside. I did check out the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the new Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. I liked the exhibits at the Jefferson Memorial best. They spend a lot of time talking about Jefferson's scholarly pursuits, not just his political career. I thought the FDR Memorial had the most interesting design, though. It's a sprawling complex with different areas devoted to his four presidencies. There are statues, stone blocks inscribed with excerpts from his speeches, and waterfalls.

I'd had the presence of mind to check the weather forecast, but the absence of mind to not take my rain jacket with me. As I was leaving the Lincoln Memorial, a rain shower started, so I spent the rest of the day in interior attractions.

I started with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where they were busy printing up $20 bills. The tour here was a lot more interesting than what I saw at the US Mint in Philadelphia. The machines are labelled, and you can see the sheets as they enter and exit each machine, so you can tell what's going on in each phase. The viewing gallery is also much closer to the action. The Mint has a two-floor-high working area, so it's pretty hard to see the blanks/coins as they're moving around, but the BEP is only one story below.

Next door is the National Holocaust Museum, where I visited a very well-designed exhibit about Nazi propaganda.

I made a brief stop at the Smithsonian Castle, which has a sampling of the collections of the other Smithsonian museums, to get a feel for which of them I'd like to see, then headed off to the Hirshhorn.

The Hirshhorn houses the Smithsonian's collection of modern and contemporary art. They had a big Warhol exhibition of "Shadows", a set of 72 large canvases each with a screen print of an abstracted shadow. I'm generally not a fan of Warhol's stuff, but this piece was pretty interesting. There was a lot of variation in color and texture among the pieces.

The other piece that was particularly interesting was a room, pitch-black except for one dimly glowing red wall. You had to sit in the room for several minutes before your eyes adjusted enough to see.

After the museum closed, I caught the Metro back to Eric's workplace and we went to dinner at a little small plates restaurant nearby.


g-na (Anonymously) Thursday, 27 October 2011 6:47am

Do you have more time to spend at the Mall? When I was there I spent a full day at the Natural History Museum - it's a gorgeous old building with wonderful displays. They have a great, large section on skeletal anatomy which was simply fascinating and taught me some things I didn't know. The Air & Space Museum was wonderful as well. I hope you have time to explore more!