Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day in DC

We arrived in DC on Tuesday afternoon and headed straight to our hotel, the Capitol Hill Suites which was literally only about two blocks from the Capitol. We checked in, and then headed out to dinner. We ended up going back to Othello in Dupont Circle for some delicious Italian food. We had eaten there the last time we were in DC and knew that it was really good so we went again. After a delicious dinner and cappuccinos and desert, we came back to the hotel where we all crashed! The next morning, I went down and brought everyone back breakfast. After the kids and Dave ate, they crawled back in the bed with their milk and coffee which is when I took these pictures. I thought they were too cute.

We took our time getting ready and checking out of the hotel and by that time it was almost time for lunch. We wanted to eat at restaurants that we don't have here in Jacksonville so we went to the Taj Mahal, an Indian restaurant before heading to the National Museum of American History. Dave and I both enjoyed it and the kids enjoyed parts of it but they got bored pretty quickly so we did not get to spend as much time there as we would have liked.

One of the first things we saw was the John Bull Locomotive. This landmark object identifies the transportation and technology wing of the museum. On view is the steam locomotive John Bull and a section of the first iron railroad bridge in America. The steam locomotive John Bull was built in 1831 and ran for 35 years, pulling trains of passengers and cargo between the two largest cities of the time, Philadelphia and New York. The locomotive propelled trains at 25 to 30 miles per hour. The John Bull, which was ordered from England by Robert Stevens for his railroad company, was named after the mythical gentleman who symbolized England. It was assembled by Isaac Dripps, a young steamboat mechanic who had never seen a locomotive before.

One of mine and Zachary's favorite exhibits was America on the Move. The Museum's transportation hall encompasses nearly 26,000 square feet, includes 340 objects, and features 19 historic settings in chronological order. From the coming of the railroad to a California town in 1876 to the role of the streetcar and the automobile in creating suburbs to the global economy of Los Angeles in 1999, America on the Move takes visitors on a fascinating journey. Multimedia technology and environments allows visitors to see historic artifacts as they once were, a vital part of the nation’s transportation system and of the business, social, and cultural history of the country. The exhibition features a 1903 Winton, the first car driven across the United States;a Chicago Transit Authority “L” car; a 199-ton, 92-foot-long Southern Railway locomotive, the 1401 and a 40-foot stretch of the famed Route 66.

Grace and Zachary did enjoy the Spark!Lab where everyone can envision the “Eureka!” moment of invention, where the idea suddenly strikes and—BOOM—there’s a new product ready to change the world. Spark!Lab, the newest hands-on space for families and others visiting the National Museum of American History shows the real story behind an inventor’s work.
Invention is a process, from creative ideas all the way to successful marketing, and the Lemelson Center’s Spark!Lab uses fun activities to help kids and families learn about the history and process of invention. You can play games, conduct science experiments, explore inventors’ notebooks, and even invent! Grace and Zachary were part of a group that conducted an experiment to determine which drinks contained the most Vitamin C.

This was in the I Do Solemnly Swear: Photographs of the 2009 Inauguration Exhibit. This exhibition featured over 30 framed color and black-and-white photographs highlighting the week-long events surrounding the historic Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. Included in the exhibition were photographs by both professional and amateur photographers who recorded events surrounding the peaceful American transfer of power.

Thanks for the Memories: Music, Sports and Entertainment History Exhibit
Music, sports and entertainment play major roles in American life, shaping our national memory and often defining what is American to the nation and to the world. The infinite variety of popular culture offers a democracy of choices. The memorable objects and ideas in this exhibition are a sampling of more than a century of collecting at the Smithsonian. This exhibition features Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”; Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis’ boxing gloves; a boom box owned by hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy; Oscar the Grouch; Kermit the Frog; Archie Bunker's chair and Jerry Seinfeld's ruffled shirt.

I really enjoyed the Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life Exhibit. The exhibition
showcased more than 60 historical treasures associated with Lincoln's life
from an iron wedge he used to split wood in the early 1830s in New Salem, Ill.,
to his iconic top hat he wore the night he was shot at Ford’s Theatre.

His story is as familiar to Americans as any children’s fable.

He was born in a log cabin.
He became the 16th president.
He freed the slaves and saved the Union.
He was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre.

How did an unschooled, backwoods politician rise to the presidency and guide the nation through its greatest crisis? Who was this individual who helped to define our country’s future through the force of his leadership and intellect?

Casts of Lincoln
Chicago artist Leonard Volk produced this plaster life mask of Abraham Lincoln
in April 1860. Volk made the casts of Lincoln’s hands on May 20, two days
after the Republican Party nominated him for the presidency.
Lincoln’s right hand was still swollen from shaking hands with supporters.
To steady his hand in the mold, Lincoln went out to the woodshed and cut off
a piece of broom handle. Volk later placed the piece of handle in the cast displayed here.

"There is the animal himself!"
—Abraham Lincoln on first seeing the life mask in Volk’s studio

In 1886 Volk’s son sold the casts of Lincoln’s face and hands to a group
that proposed having the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens
make a limited set of replicas. In 1888 the 33 supporters of this project
presented Volk’s personal copies of the life mask and hands,
along with bronze replicas produced by Saint-Gaudens, to the U.S. government
for preservation. The donation was made on the condition that
“the original plaster casts should never be tampered with.” Any future casts
could only be made from the bronze replicas.

Lincoln’s Top Hat
At six feet four inches tall, Lincoln towered over most of his contemporaries.
He chose to stand out even more by wearing high top hats. He acquired this hat
from J. Y. Davis, a Washington hat maker. Lincoln had the black silk mourning
band added in remembrance of his son Willie. No one knows when he obtained
the hat, or how often he wore it. The last time he put it on was to go to Ford’s Theatre
on April 14, 1865. After Lincoln’s assassination, the War Department preserved
his hat and other material left at Ford’s Theatre. With permission from
Mary Lincoln, the department gave the hat to the Patent Office, which, in 1867,
transferred it to the Smithsonian Institution. Joseph Henry, the Secretary
of the Smithsonian, ordered his staff not to exhibit the hat “under any circumstance,
and not to mention the matter to any one, on account of there being
so much excitement at the time.” It was immediately placed in a
basement storage room.

The American public did not see the hat again until 1893, when the Smithsonian
lent it to an exhibition hosted by the Lincoln Memorial Association.
Today it is one of the Institution’s most treasured objects.

Mill’s Mask of Lincoln
On February 11, 1865, about two months before his death,
Lincoln permitted sculptor Clark Mills to make this life mask of his face.
This was the second and last life mask made of Lincoln. The strain of the
presidency was written on Abraham Lincoln’s face. His secretary, John Hay,
remarked on the dramatic difference in Lincoln’s two life masks.
He noted that the first (above) “is a man of fifty-one, and young for his years. . . .
It is a face full of life, of energy, of vivid aspiration. . . . .The other is so sad
and peaceful in its infinite repose . . . . a look as of one on whom sorrow and care
had done their worst without victory is on all the features.”

The last exhibit we went to before leaving the museum was The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag That Inspired the National Anthem Exhibit. Cameras were not allowed so I don't have any personal pictures of it but it was very impressive. The exhibit opened on November 21, 2008 to display one of the Museum's most treasured icons-the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired our national anthem. Along with ensuring the long-term preservation of this cherished artifact, the exhibition presents the history of the flag and evoke its significance as a national symbol.

Upon entering this exhibition, you are immersed in the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write his famous lyrics. The almost 200-year old, 30-by 34-foot flag is displayed in a special environmentally-controlled chamber. An interactive table with a tactile image allows visitors to investigate key details of the flag and how it was made. The exhibition explores the flag as a family keepsake in the 19th century, the Smithsonian Institution’s efforts to preserve the artifact since 1907, and how Americans have used the Star-Spangled Banner—both the flag and the song—to express diverse ideas of patriotism and national identity.

The new permanent exhibition represents the Smithsonian’s greatest effort to meet the dual challenge of preserving the Star-Spangled Banner and communicating its history and significance to visitors. Working with architects, engineers, and exhibition designers, the Museum has developed a plan that serves both artifact and audience equally well. The need for an enclosed display chamber to protect the flag also serves visitor interests by providing a close-up view of the entire flag in a dramatic and contemplative setting. Together, these exhibition elements comprise an entirely new way of seeing the Star-Spangled Banner, learning about its history, and appreciating its significance. At the same time, the exhibition establishes a permanent, safe environment for the flag so that the Museum can continue to display this historic artifact for generations to come.

Old Post Office

The White House

Jefferson Memorial

1 comment:

Ellis Family said...

I would like to award you with "Longest blog post ever"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL