Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekend Report: Mollie's Museum Tour

It always shocks me to learn that some of my DC friends have not been to the Smithsonians. I know that museum visiting is a very cliché touristy thing to do...but the museums are touristy for a reason - they're awesome

This Saturday I originally planned to hike Old Rag with one of my college ski team friends, but ominous weather reports deterred us and we opted to hit up the National Mall instead.

This friend sheepishly admitted that she had never been to the National Gallery before.  

What??? I was shocked. (Shocked!

What about the Freer-Sackler? The African Art Museum? No and no. 

My taxes may not get me voting rights or representation in Congress, but the Smithsonians are free for a reason and I do take full advantage of that!

So the afternoon quickly turned into a Mollie's-all-time-favorite-museums-and-exhibits tour. 

We started at the Chester Dale exhibit in the National Gallery. Love. (I've blogged about it before.) The museum store was also having a great sale on prints, so I bought a few Matisses to decorate my depressingly sterile white new office.

Next we went to the African Art Museum. It's permanent collection is meh, but the coming and going modern African art exhibits are always amazing!

Artists in Dialogue 2: Sandile Zulu and Henrique Oliveira is the second in a series of exhibitions in which the National Museum of African Art has invited two artists to create new works of art in response to one another...Sandile Zulu of South Africa and Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira have exchanged ideas and techniques to explore their mutual interest in visual themes and intellectual concerns relating to the manipulability of a painting's surface, the workings of the inner body and the inspirational power of elements like fire and water. Henrique Oliveira has shared his trademark woods with Sandile Zulu; Zulu, in turn, inspired Oliveira to work with fire for the first time.

Then we took the winding stairs down into the maze of depths beneath the Smithsonian Castle Garden. This 3-floor hanging sculpture is called "Monkeys Grasping for the Moon" and intertwines the word "monkey" in a 21 different languages. 

You never really know what you're going to find down there...this time it was an exhibition on Latino music and dance in America called America Sabor. We rumba'ed, salsa'ed, and cha-cha-cha'ed through the colorful exhibit, too lazy to really read much but happy to appreciate. 

We came out the other side via the Freer-Sackler Asian Art Museum.  We saw a special exhibit, Cixi: The Woman Behind the Throne, that's a series of pictures of the last empress of China. 

By the time we emerged from the cultural depths, my friend and I were museum'ed out. We didn't do them all (the Peacock Room! The Portrait Gallery!), but now at least she's seen some of the Smithsonian highlights.