A few days ago Francesca and I began camping out at the apartment of my step-son, Ruy, shares with his effervescent partner, Meagan.
The next day we coasted down Capitol Hill on bicycles to feast on our nation's great collections. Most of us wanted to see one or two museums. I later broke off to see more.
Here's how the afternoon went ,
Hour One- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History An early ancestor of mine
Grover & Clyde
Dr. Grover Krantz was a professor of physical anthropology at Washington State University. When he died eight years ago he left his remains and those of his 160 lb. Irish wolfhound, Clyde, to the museum. It was his wish that their skeletons would be reunited for eternal public display.
I would never do such a thing. If you'd like to see Pi and me frolic, come by the house. We'll be home in two weeks.
Two- Hirshhorn Museum of Art.
This exhibit showed us all the cool things you can do with coat hangers besides store you clothes.
Tiring of this, I scurried over to the
Air & Space Museum next door.
On the way I saw a kid wearing a space blanket. He was overjoyed that grandpa had shelled out $22 for the darn thing.
Three- Air & Space
In the huge building behind this golden kid, the first space plane hung overhead.
When they unveil the next version you'll be able to take a $200,000 space ride.
Eighty feet away a huge Eastern Airlines DC-3 was suspended from the ceiling. My dad flew these in the forties. Imagining Captain Terry in the front seat thundering through the clouds made me proud.
Now it was time for something new, a museum we had never seen. Francesca and I pedaled north to the National Portrait Museum. I had avoided it for years figuring, "Who needs to see a lot of painted faces?"
As I soon found out, I did. The former Patient Office Building is fantastic.
The portraits are well worth seeing but just a third of this beautiful, uncrowded space is devoted to images of people.
I told my wife, "This place is amazing, worth seeing just for its folk art!" While enjoying paintings by Grandma Moses and Miami's Purvis Young I came upon "The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's General Assembly".
It was created by artist James Hampton in a rented garage. It took him fourteen years to assemble it using cardboard, cups, and aluminum foil.
The Throne was created to give God's son a comfortable place to reside upon his return to earth. Jesus, of course, was privy to this but it was not discovered by people until the artist died in 1964.
The Portrait Museum was a hard act to follow but I did check out one more, the National Building Museum.
Five- National Building Museum
The lobby is impressive, one hundred feet high. The
building was created to handle
pensions for Civil War veterans in the 1870's. Its a big shell with these 80-foot pillars holding it up.
You got to the side offices (now exhibition spaces) by climbing up long low-rise stairs, easier for wounded veterans to climb.
Now it houses exhibitions on architecture, construction, and urban design.
The coolest part was the northwest corner where you can play miniature golf. The person who knocks his ball through little buildings with the least strokes wins.
It was creative, fun, but not all that impressive when compared to the Throne of Jesus.