Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things to Do: National Portrait Gallery and then some...

Today, I finally got back to my list of 'things to do' in DC before we leave.  I was just reviewing my list and while I felt like I was being really productive today, I actually ended up only doing one thing on my list.  One!!  But I did see a few things that I had wanted to see, but didn't think to put on my list.  So here's how my day went:

yep, this picture is crooked.  I would like to know how you take a good picture of an amazing building...or a good picture at all!
 I started out at the National Archives this morning.  I believe that I am a genius (I had to use spell check for genius, so maybe I am not such a genius after all :) for waiting to see the archives until today.  I have walked by several other times but have decided against going in because I could always see the line of people waiting to go inside.  Not today though!  I walked right in and right up to see the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, Constitution and the Declaration of Independence all in about 15 minutes.  It was awesome! A few things of note from the Archives:  beautiful penmanship is non-existent now, all the documents were written on really large paper (why?), the Declaration of Independence is extremely faded ...so much so that even John Hancock's giant signature is slipping away, and the man who wrote the actual Constitution was paid $30 dollars for his work (what is today's equivalent amount?)
I obviously did not take this picture..but note the fade...

My next stop was the National Portrait Gallery & the American Art Museum.  They share a building so I had the pleasure of seeing both over the course of 3 hours.  I did enjoy the portraits of the presidents and a few of the more well-known people from history but I ended up just skimming by quite a few in the end.  Three floors of nothing but faces...and reading hefty paragraphs to find out who they were is tiring!

Kogod Courtyard- free wi-fi apparently

The building used to be the U.S. patent office...it is one Washington's oldest public buildings, being built only after the white house and capitol.  In 1865, Lincoln held his 2nd inaugural ball in this room.
It's not every day I get to see an Oscar in real-life..or ever come to think of it.  These were Katharine Hepburn's.

I love this...

Now this is something I see everyday. How'd you do it Norman Rockwell?

I met up with my friend Sara afterwards but she quickly abandoned me (j/k sara)  to go to a meeting she had forgotten about so I went into the National Aquarium.  Don't let 'national' fool you, this is not a free museum.  If someone were to ask if I would recommend it, I would definitely say no, no I would not.  It's not worth the $9.95.  Maybe I should have known it wasn't going to be good as it is in the basement of the commerce building--I guess they needed a little extra commerce going on to pay their bills. (heh heh, not funny? ok)  After reading the reviews a couple minutes ago, I would say that the only people that go into this aquarium are people that wander by and stumble in--like myself.  Had I read the reviews before going, I would have saved my $10 for half the entrance fee into the spy museum.  Only other thing of note about the aquarium is that I ran into a visiting Dane...I guess I definitely recognize danish when I hear it--just not all the specifics I am hearing :)
Most exciting activity of the day...

Purple Sea Urchin?  This actually may have been my favorite tank
Clearly the national aquarium is so dull that even this guy can't stand it and he lives here...
After that, I couldn't take anymore sightseeing in one day--until I spotted the Old Post Office.  This is another DC site that I have walked by many a time but never had taken the time to walk inside.  The 'pavillion' was nothing special--just generic Chinese, pizza, and kabob restaurants but the architecture is worth going in for a few minutes.  The trip to the tower is free so I walked into the oldest, glass elevator I have ever seen and prayed that there wouldn't be another earthquake during my 30 second ride.

Old Post Office

View from 9 floors up
towards half of the mall
Pennsylvania Ave
After today, that leaves the Jefferson Memorial, Spy Museum, Building Museum, National Cathedral, Zoo, & National Gallery of Art...I may be running out of time! 
And as if there were not enough pictures already, I will leave you with my favorite thing of the day, and a picture of me on this momentous day of sight-seeing.
Electronic Superhighway:Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii...after being in so many dark places in one day (archives, portrait gallery, & aquarium) I didn't want to leave this bright, fun piece of art.  All the states had tvs that depicted something well-known to that particular state.  Poor Idaho..every image was of potatoes.   This can be found on the 3rd floor of the American Art Museum.

Aww, another winning "stranger-taken" photo

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