I’ve spread our meanderings over three posts and in today’s we’re heading for The Mall where many of Washington’s museums are grouped though I appear to have failed to capture pictures of all of them – probably mesmerised by all those Doric columns!
National Gallery of Art
The two buildings on either side of 4th Street NW are the National Gallery of Art. An underground walkway connects them. The east building displays modern and contemporary art in both permanent and temporary exhibitions. The west building houses artwork from 11 – 19th centuries. The sculpture garden to the north across 7th Street NW features large-scale works of modern sculpture. It is a great place to take a break.
Smithsonian Museums on the Mall
The Smithsonian was established by James Smithson, an English scientist who willed part of his estate to the United States for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum complex with over 150 million artifacts held in trust for the American people.
The Smithsonian’s Visitor Centre is housed in the Smithsonian Castle which was completed in 1855 and was the first Smithsonian museum. The crypt in the castle’s north tower holds Smithson’s remains. Originally buried in Genoa Italy, his remains were moved here in 1904. Interestingly, while alive, Smithson never visited the United States.
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery
These galleries showcase the power and grace of Asian art and its ability to reflect culture. Combined they are the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. The collections have more than 40,000 objects from the Ancient East, Asia, and the Islamic world.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
The Hirshhorn displays international modern and contemporary art. The exhibits change regularly and highlight major artists and trends. The sculpture garden across Jefferson Drive has works by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore and even Yoko Ono.
National Museum of the American Indian
The museum’s collection of Native American arts and artifacts is (unsurprisingly) one of the world’s most extensive. It covers over 12,000 years of history and includes all major cultural areas in the Americas.
National Museum of Natural History
It is unclear who initially owned the Hope Diamond or where it was found though it is believed to have been mined in India in the early 1600s. This museum featured in the 2006 film ‘Night at the Museum’.
National Museum of American History
The Philadelphia was one of the gunboats built by Benedict Arnold in 1776 to fight the British during the American War of Independence. This museum is devoted to all aspects of the growth of America, showcasing everything from Washington’s military uniform and Jefferson’s portable desk to Dorothy’s Wizard of Oz ruby slippers.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The newest Smithsonian museum’s architecture stands out on the mall. It’s the only national museum focusing exclusively on African American life, art, history and culture, starting from the Transatlantic Slave Trade of the 1400’s to the defining moments of the 1960’s.
Our meanderings continue into next week……