Day 30 [DC] All Things Smithsonian

THANKS TO THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, DC is a city swarming with world-class museums that showcase many of the valuable historical pieces that would definitely worth visiting.

Everyone coming to visit should start at the Smithsonian Castle, a beautiful visitor center offering a handbook which includes all the maps and information about all the museums, and a video presentation about the institution. There is also a very selective exhibit that features all the best items from the collection. Here is an impressive bird in flight thing that I can’t take my eyes off.

One must see museum is the Freer and Sackler galleries. The art here is totally random, and can range from anything you possibly can imagine. There’s one exhibit about photographs of the sea, and another one dedicating to Jim Henson, the creator of the muppets. I loved the muppets’ one, simply because I grew up watching Sesame Street and Jim is a creative genius.

I then went to the Museum of the American Indian and find its exhibits similar to those I have seen in New York. I did had my ancient tribal lunch of seabeans and wild artichokes, which I adored. The Museum of Art on the other hand, offers much more. It is really big inside (not as big as the Met but still big), and a corridor with a beautiful stairs of water connecting its east and west wings. The most talked about exhibition is of the recently found Afghanistan royal jewelleries. I watched the documentary about the artifacts and can appreciate the dangerous efforts that the archaeologists did.

Close to Chinatown and away from the Mall is the Museum of American Art and National Portrait Museum. In this one, there are lots of different portraits of all sorts. There’s the portraits of all the presidents, and old and new ones of famous people. The hip hop exhibition has Big Daddy Kane and LL Cool J. There’s a funny one of Kurt Vonnegut that he painted himself. The best thing I like about this museum is that it has a large indoor park right in its center. It is air-conditioned, yet still has sunlight in it. They have comfortable benches and chairs for people to hang out and rest. I took a very satisfying nap on one of the tables.

One museum which is not Smithsonian but still worth visiting is the National Geographic Society which you’ll never miss because of the colorful tree frog statue outside of it. Admission is free and when I went in, they are currently exhibiting the Chinese General Zheng He’s voyage at sea. Being National Geographic, I expected lots of stunning photography and I am glad that I was not let down at all. Although the museum ain’t very big, the exhibits are quite elaborate and precise. Other than that, I passed by the Red Cross headquarters to know that they don’t have tours that day.

One thing you will definitely notice when you walk the streets of DC is that wherever you go in the Mall, the Washington monument watches over you. No matter if I’m in the crowds or near the lawn, I can always see the high tower standing tall and proud, making me wanna snap a photo with it. I walked back to the reflecting pool overlooking the Lincoln memorial at the other side, and wandered around the park. I went to see the World War II memorial for myself. It consists of towers with the names of the states that participated in the war circling the fountain.

Just right before 6pm, I went to the Kennedy Theater of Performing Arts. It is quite convenient to get there because they have free shuttle buses from a nearby metro station, and the buses are quite comfortable I might say. Every evening, they have free performances for all at the Center. Today’s performance is by the Airforce, a band they call themselves ‘Airmen of Note’. The hall is filled with people, and we all had a great time listening to them playing and singing the blues. After that, I went walking around the center and was happy to see the ‘Cool Globes – Hot Ideas For A Cooler Planet’ exhibition. I have heard about the project, and was really glad that I get to see the cute globes in person. The ones that I loved the most are the ‘Plant-A-Tree’ one, the ‘Unplug’ one, and of course the ‘Save Your Energy’ piggy one. I hope this small pieces of art get their messages delivered and I hope more people will start taking care of our environment.

After being freaked out by museums the whole day, I spent my night contemplating about all the things I saw. I can’t thank the Smithsonian Institution enough for their efforts in making sure that knowledge is preserved and passed down to everyone, especially to poor students like me.

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