Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Museums, Museums, Museums!

The many Smithsonian museums in are always one of the highlights of a trip to Washington, D.C.  We had been back in 1976 for a quick walk thru some of them, so were excited to have two whole days planned to visit this time.  The National Air and Space Museum was the first stop.  Of course, we saw planes, planes and more planes.  A few of my favorites follow.

Amelia Earhart's Vega
She flew this plane alone across the Atlantic and across the United States, setting records for being the first woman to do so.

Japanese Zero
These were the type of planes that attacked Pearl Harbor.

This is the world's first powered aircraft that was flown at Kitty Hawk.

Plans for this contraption date back to 1505.  Can you imagine what Leo would think of modern flying machines?

There were many other air and space-related things displayed in addition to the airplanes.  I'm including  pictures of just a few.

MQ-1L Predator
This drone is what the military is currently using for surveillance and attack mission.

Apollo Lunar Lander
Originally built for the Apollo program, its mission was cancelled.

Weather balloon
This is the business part of the weather balloons used for predicting weather.

What I've shown here is, of course, just a fraction of what you can see in this museum.  You can take a guided tour (free) if you wanted someone to explain what you were seeing or you could, like Sid, read EVERY placard in the place!

But, it's time to move on to my favorite, the National Museum of American History.  You could easily spend a whole day in just this one museum as well.  In fact, we started on one floor, tired out and had to come back the next day to finish.  I'm going to show you just a fraction, but some of my favorite things.

Modern country music and cutting edge bluegrass, this band's performance was outstanding!  I could have listened all day, but they only played two short sets while we were in the museum.

5000 and 100,000 dollar bills
I didn't even know these existed!

George Bush pop up toy
Is he the monkey or the weasel?

Emeril  Lagasse's chef coat 
It was smaller than I expected.  I guess TV does really add 10 pounds!

George Washington statue
Commissioned as the first monument to Washington, the pose, while actually full of symbolism, was quite controversial in 1841 when it was unveiled.  Most people just saw a half naked man and prompted friend of the sculptor to say "This magnificent production of genius does not seem to be appreciated at its full value in this metropolis."

Julia Child's kitchen
This is from the Massachusetts home of the cook and is where her 1990s show was filmed.

American flag made out of Legos.

The world's first frozen margarita machine
I thought of a couple of people in particular when I saw this and you know who you are!

Mary Todd Lincoln's gown
This gown is believed to have been made by Elizabeth Keckly and was worn by the first  lady during the winter social 1861 - 1862.  After reading Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and Behind the Scenes and discussing it with my book club, I was so excited to see this!

Abraham Lincoln's Hat
This is the hat he was wearing that night at Ford's theater.  So cool that the museum has this!

1930s Travel Trailer
During the depression, thousand of Americans lived in these types of trailers and because they did not pay real estate taxes, these "trailerites" were considered to be a social problem!  And because they were quite small, many people moved their domestic lives outdoors when weather permitted.  This violated people's ideas of "proper conduct" and helped give trailers a bad name.  Since I live full time in my RV, I'm sure glad that people's opinions have changed!

The final museum we had time for was the National Gallery of Art.  I went to this one by myself while Sid spent extra time in the Air and Space museum.  It was so much fun seeing original paintings of prints that I've seen all my life.

Just a few of the fabulous paintings

The building itself is a work of art, with a rotunda, indoor garden and beautiful marble everywhere.

Indoor garden

Sculpture honoring the first African-American  regiment formed in the North

Interior hallway


As always, there was much, much more to see than we had time for.  Some of the museums were closed and others were just down further on our list of priorities.  But after two solid days of walking, we had to give up and call it good.

Hope you've enjoyed this peek into some of the Smithsonian's museums.  I usually try to break these posts up into smaller, more easily read parts, but these three museums just called out to be grouped together. There are, however, more museum posts in the works!  

Until next time...

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