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I've never been a beach person - nor much of a water person for that matter - there are only lakes and rivers in the land-locked Prairies scoured out of the ground by the glacial action of the last ice age and the meltwaters of the Rocky Mountains .

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2012.12.10 A Capitol Idea - Day 2


On day 2 we set out to visit as many museums and galleries as we could, with a more-leisurely yet efficient pace. We wanted to get out of DC before rush-hour, and still faced a 6-hour drive home. The night before, while searching for our hotel, fate smiled sweetly upon us as we were nearly - nearly - creamed by a large truck while trying to find the proper lane to be in on the curve out of a tunnel off-ramp. Nearly. So, the day was looking favourable for us. :)

First up was to find parking. Free parking. All taken by 11am though, so we found a 2-hour meter in view of the Capitol.    

    On the way to our first stop we passed by the National Museum of the American Indian, designed by a Canadian born 3 hours south of my hometown - Douglas Cardinal - with a curvilinear facade distinctive to the exteriors of all his designs.    



United States Botanic Garden



















National Air and Space Museum

After a walk through land-based exhibits that helped to distract us from the grey December weather we took to the skies at the Smithsonian's NASM.

This is a large facility, as necessitated by the size of the items on display. All these items were designed to be thrown, or pulled, or pushed into the air (or beyond), and are now contained inside a building.

Though the whole museum is arranged thematically and I took my usual boatload of pictures, I'm showing just a sample here, arranged in some kind of chronological order.

There are exhibits large and small, from the vehicles shown in my pictures, to things like guidance system circuit boards.

The largest items in the collection, like the space shuttle Discovery, are in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located by the Washington Dulles International Airport. That's a trip for next time though.


1903 Wright Flyer replica

Charles Lindbergh's
The Spirit of St. Louis

Amelia Earhart's
Lockheed 5B Vega

Fokker T-2; first
non-stop US
transcontinent flight



Sea-Air Aviation

Rolls-Royce Dart Turboprop

Goddard Hoopskirt Rocket

Hubble Space Telescope (for testing)

V-1 Cruise Missile, various ballistic missiles

Skylab Orbital Workshop (background), V-2 Missile (left)

Gemini IV

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

Apollo Lunar Module LM-2

Rocket Engine

The Able Experiment

Apollo 15 Lunar Suit

John Glenn's Space Suit

Yuri Gagarin's Space Suit





First US Photoreconnaisance satellite

Tomahawk cruise missile

Predator drone

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

As companion to the National Gallery of Art the Sculpture Garden is built around a fountain pool that becomes a skating rink in the winter.    

Joan Miró
Personnage Gothique, Oiseau-Eclair

Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen
Typewriter Eraser, Scale X

Lucas Samaras
Chair Transformation Number 20B

Roxy Paine

Alexander Calder
Cheval Rouge

Roy Lichtenstein
House I


National Museum of Natural History

A little non-art now, a quick visit to the Museum of Natural History. We spent most of our time in the paleobiology wing, because I like dinosaurs, The rest, you can read about on their website.



















Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

And finally, some more art. First outdoors, then inside the iconic Hirshhorn Museum, a 3-storey hollow cylinder resting on four pillars, hovering over an open courtyard. Controversial since its inception, it's either a work of art itself, or a concrete bunker, definitely a noteworthy structure.

First we start with the sunken sculpture garden.



The Burghers of Calais

Henry Moore


Henry Moore

Henry Moore




Amaldo Pomodoro

Sphere No. 6 (Sphere with a Sphere)

Jeff Koons

Now on to the building and surrounding grounds.

Mall-side view
Roy Lichtenstein

Tony Cragg

Juan Muñoz
Last Conversation Piece

Claes Oldenburg
Geometric Mouse: Variation I, Scale A

Alexander Calder
Two Discs


James Sanborn

The courtyard featured an installation by dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei , part of a visiting Exhibition called According to What?    

Circle of Animals
Zodiac Heads


    With all the funky metal shapes called "art" we'd seen, these courtyard tables and chairs in repose seemed to warrant the same attention.    


Inside we go for the remainder of our visit, split into two parts: The Ai Weiwei exhibition, and everything else. Since the first piece once inside the building was his, we'll start with his exhibition.


Cube Light

Snake Ceiling


dozens of interlocked knapsacks



MRI of cerebral hemorrhage after a police beating


He Xie





Colored Vases

Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn



Coca-Cola Vase

Moon Chest


Finally, some items from the Hirshhorn's permanent collection.

Marsden Hartley
Canuck Yankee Lumberjack at Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Piet Mondrian
Composition with Blue and Yellow

Alexander Calder
Red Cascade

Alexander Calder
Vertical Constellation with Yellow Bone

Alberto Giacometti
Bust of Diego

Alberto Giacometti
Tall Figure

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon
Study for Portrait V

Joan Miró
Woman (Personage)

Alberto Giacometti
Reclining Woman Who Dreams

Henry Moore

Henry Moore
Interior-Exterior Reclining Figure

Seymour Lipton
Winter Solstice No. 2

Willem de Kooning
Queen of Hearts

Andy Warhol

Louise Nevelson
Black Wall

David Hammons

Martha Boto
Henri Matisse    

Back I

Back II

Back III

Back IV

And that was it for Washington, DC, a hard-charging two days of history and art that wore out my feet but energised my brain.

Now it was time to head back to the beach. 6 hours, the first two of which we spent in sluggish traffic out of Washington. Fortunately the weather was warm enough that we could drive top-down the whole way, even through a spot of rain near Richmond, VA. Driving top-down in early December - an amazing feat for a boy from the cold Canadian prairies!

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Document EKO/ZDTZ/0.1:2013.02.19    A branch of The BRIDGE Tree