Though we have been to countless museums in Washington, DC, there always seems to be just one more we have yet to visit. Last weekend we had record-breaking heat in DC so we found ourselves indoors once again, and though the boys were initially skeptical, our visit to the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art proved enjoyable for all.
The National Portrait Gallery has done a very good job of making itself accessible to children. Upon arrival we headed to the education center where the boys were each able to check out a "Portrait Discovery Kit" personality from a lengthy list of influential figures to help guide them through the museum. The kits included the guide doll, a set of laminated cards to teach them about various aspects of art and several specific works on display, and several pads of paper to encourage or inspire their own artistic interests. As a result of the cards we had conversations that day on topics including slavery, women's suffrage, what happened to Amelia Earhart, bronze busts, the Civil War, JFK's assassination, buffalo skins, and suicide. Needless to say, we all learned a lot.
Isaac chose Theodore Roosevelt as his guide and was delighted to pose with his doll and TR's portrait when we found it in the gallery of American Presidents.
Caleb's choice was Abraham Lincoln.
One of the portraits we were led to using the cards was this one of Frederick Douglass. In addition to the fact that Douglass was a pivotal figure in the fight for race equality, we had a personal interest in taking this photo. My dad currently serves as Textual Editor of the two-volume Life and Times of Frederick Douglass edition in the autobiographical series of the Frederick Douglass Papers project published by Yale University Press. So, this one's for you Grandest!
We couldn't help but pose with this portrait of
We've seen copies of this famous painting many time. It was nice to see the original in person.
When I was a kid, my sister, Lil, had these history cards. I really liked reading through them and distinctly remember one of the cards was a picture of this portrait of Pocahontas. The boys didn't much care, but they are nice boys and humored me with this shot.
Claire, was excited to take a picture with this portrait of Benjamin Franklin.
And, if possible, she was even more excited when posing with Alexander Hamilton.
After going through all their guide cards, the boys were ready for a break. The Kogod Courtyard in the center of the museums is a perfect place to take a break.
These very shallow fountains were perfect for working off some energy.
The water streams across the granite floor making it quite slippery and by the time our break was over, both boys were more than a little wet.
After our break we headed to this exhibit -- we had to or Caleb would have been devastated.
They were thrilled with the chance to play these enormous games that were featured in the exhibit.
This quotation was projected larger than life on one wall of the exhibit. I have my own thoughts on this statement, but I'll keep them too myself.
Jenova Chen, author of the above quotation, invented this game called Flower. The player is the wind. You/the wind blows through a post-apocalyptic wasteland in search of flowers and collecting petals along the way. This game is supposed to provide a new perspective in gaming. I'm no gamer, but, I thought it was sort of boring -- but, I probably just didn't get it. The kids, however, were intrigued.
We also stopped by an incredible exhibit commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812. No photography allowed, but if you are in the area, it is not to be missed.
Afterwards we went back to the education center to enjoy Portrait Story Days, a program offered every weekend which showcases a story about a famous person in history. We heard a story about Jackie Robinson and then stopped to see his portrait on our way out of the museum.