Marble, Cement & Guys in Wigs
As far as cutting-edge art and design cities, Washington DC doesn’t immediately spring to mind. However, I flipped my lid when I saw that a Barbara Kruger installation AND a Man Ray exhibit were in town. AÂ junket MUST be arranged.
- See the Barbara Kruger Belief + Doubt installation at the Hirshhorn.
- See the Man Ray – Human Equations show at the Phillips Collection.
Additions to the Itinerary:
- The Capitol
- The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
- Any of the Smithsonians
- The Supreme Courts
- Camden Yards
Transportation: $387 PSPÂ to BWI on United
Cost of Lodging: Â Stayed free withÂ my brother
My brother lives just outside the district, soÂ that was that. He sprung into actionâ€”booking film tickets at FilmFestDC, getting Senate and House passes from his senator, Orioles ticketsâ€“the perfect travel agent! I just sat back for the ride. So much design, so much art. Let’s start with the Capitol.
The Capitol Visitor Center is a well-oiled machine. And it has to be due to the tons of visitors they get each day. You’ll move through the vast lower-level center easily due to a timed onlineÂ reservation system. Â Additionally you can contact your representative and one of their staff will take you for a tour. I did this, but he stood me up! To be fair, he had a conflict and was extremely apologetic. Are you a poor planner? No worries, just show and they’ll hook you up with a tour.
The tour itself is limitedâ€”I counted three roomsâ€”but if you get a good guide, you’ll come away at least a nugget or two of trivia to dazzleÂ your friends. MyÂ guide was a loquacious young fellow, eager to throw his extensive knowledge on us.
If you watch national news, you may have seenÂ scaffolding all over the structure. The cast iron of the dome is being restored. If you don’t watch national news, hey, the Capitol is being restored!Â Here’s the view from inside.
The fresco looks heavenly with the billowy canopyÂ around it!Â Here it isÂ little closer:Â Â The Apotheosis of Washington by Italian Constantino Brumidi. (one of my nuggets) Yes, that’s George Washington holding court in the centerâ€“a little unAmerican, but there you go.
The other grand room you enter is theÂ Statuary Hall which contains statues (natch) given by the states to the Capitol. Here’s Huey Long gesturing.
Do contact your representative to get passes for the House and Senate. We got lucky and Senate was in session so we sat there watching governance. Ok, to be honest, not much was happening, but I got to hear Harry Reid make a speech and saw other lawmakers milling about. Unfortunately, they take away all electronics before you go into either chamber, so I have no photos. But as a news junkie, I was thrilled to see these folks I see on the tv all the time. But that might just be me.
[highlight]That’s nice. Sooo, should I go?[/highlight] Yes.Â The tours are 45 minutes or so, filled with factoids, (although the guides do vary in contentÂ and enthusiasm) and ornate design is EVERYWHERE. No surface is left undecorated. Even if the style ain’t your cup of tea, this is US history. And if you’re in the chambers while legislation is being made,Â this is the future.
[highlight]I’m smitten.Â TellÂ meÂ more.[/highlight] Don’t bring any liquids or food in. Or stun guns.
[highlight]Location [/highlight]Â Capitol Hill, Washington, DC 20510
[highlight]Cost[/highlight]Â Â Free always. And you get a headset so you can hear through the din.
[highlight]Tip[/highlight]Â Â Go during lunch for less crowds.Â AndÂ wish I’d known aboutÂ the excellent website of the Architect of the Capitol prior to visiting. Don’t be like me, check it out to set groundwork for your trip.