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Photo Post – Museum Tourist

The newest Smithsonian museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, has been open for more than three years but this week was my first visit. Until recently, visitors on most days needed advanced passes due to the crowds. Which made my habit of just dropping in harder.

Anyway, here are a few of my photos from a very short, less than two hour visit. Click each to see the larger version. More images are in this gallery and I’ll be adding more when I return soon to explore this impressive space and collection in more depth.

A Little Museum Learning

Fossil hall

The week of Thanksgiving I took advantage of the tourist lull to visit the new Fossil Hall at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. More frequently called the Dinosaur Hall, the space reopened last June following more than three years of construction and was pretty crowded for the first few months after the grand reveal.

The new exhibition (that’s the main hall at the top) is certainly brighter and more open than the previous version. The layout is better. Information for each display is well written and interesting. As you would expect from the Smithsonian, the hall features some very impressive artifacts.

Photo Post – M.C. Escher Edition

A couple of weeks ago, I had a unique opportunity to view some of the works by artist and mathematician M.C. Escher at the National Gallery of Art. These pieces are currently not on display at the museum and our viewing was in a small group with no glass in the way.

It was a real geeky session for me and the other the math teachers in the group, even if we only got about 30 minutes. Below are a few photos of the pieces, with the rest (plus a couple of shots from elsewhere in the East building) in this gallery. 

Lineup 2

Part of the collection we were allowed to view up close and without glass. I’m sure the curators were a little nervous but no one in our group messed up anything.

Ascending and Descending

A close up of a section of one of M. C. Escher’s most recognizable works, an amazingly detailed lithograph called Ascending and Descending.

Devils and Angels

Later in his career, Escher also worked in three dimensions. In this piece, he duplicates on a sphere his original two-dimensional tessellation showing angels interspersed with devils.

Hand with Reflecting Sphere

One of several self-portraits by Escher, this one with the artist reflected in a mirrored ball.

Picture Post #13

It’s been more than a month since I posted pictures to this space so here are a few of my better ones from that time. As always, a larger collection of my photographs are in my Flickr feed, at least until Yahoo has their fire sale.

Cooling Off

On a hot June day, this young lady enjoyed cooling off by walking through the water feature in the Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery. Most adults just walked around it.

Lighter. Simpler. Faster

This is a 50’s era “portable” reel-to-reel audio recorder used by Voice of America reporters. It’s part of a display on the history of the organization in their Washington DC headquarters.

Guitar Player

The guitarist was part of a jazz quartet that provided music during an open house at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building. The Building is undergoing extensive renovation and will soon reopen with a history of world’s fairs held in both the US and other countries.

The Old Post Office Pavilion

The Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC is being renovated into a luxury hotel to open sometime later this year. It will be a long time before I will be able to apply the new name to the building without gagging. :-)

Taking My Money Elsewhere

Over the past couple of years, I’ve complained at the Smithsonian more than a few times for doing a rather poor job. Or at least what I see as their job, which is to educate and inform their visitors in the most engaging and interactive way possible.

Although I’m a “friend” of the museum, my annual contribution is not nearly big enough for their administration to care much when I point out their problems and threaten to drop my membership. So, they probably didn’t notice this month when I renewed at a much lower level.

I’m pretty sure that action will trigger a reaction from the computer that regularly spits out the materials asking for more money. It will note what I’ve done with digital sadness and ask me, more than a few times, if I want to reconsider for the sake of this great institution.

What it will not do is cause anyone at the Smithsonian to take a more reflective look at their mission, instead of spending on more public relations. It would be nice to have the kind of money to make that happen.

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