Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Richard Family goes to Washington

click on photo for details

This past Easter weekend we flew to Washington DC for a 5-day getaway. It was our first visit here and one that I had anticipated for such a long time. I still remember our 6th grade teacher telling us that we should all try to visit the Smithsonian some day......Mrs Babineau would be pleased. We had visited London England twice before, and the two Capitols share many common traits; a Mall, grand monuments, amazing architecture and some of the most famous museums, most of which are free.

The year 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the 100th anniversary of the Gift of Cherry Trees to Washington DC from the Embassy of Japan. There are 1700 cherry trees around the Tidal Bassin and another 2000 spread around the city. We were there during the Easter Egg Roll on the White House Lawn hosted by the Obamas and the Cherry Blossom Festival. Many cherry blossoms were out in full bloom, especially in front of the Japanese Embassy and Arlington Cemetery. With the unusual warm weather and Spring coming so early this year, the variety around the Tidal Bassin had already reached it's foliage stage. 

We had the opportunity to view some amazing art at the Phillips Collection, the National Gallery of Art, the Renwick Gallery and the Hirshorn Museum / Sculpture Garden and my personal favorite the National Portrait Gallery /the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The paintings I was most anticipating were the Luncheon of the Boating Party by Auguste Renoir, the Vermeer's at the National Gallery of Art and the many Edward Hopper and John Singer Sargent's spread in the many museums listed above. 

We also visited most of the monuments and war memorials. We went on a guided tour of the Capitol Building, and breezed through the National Geographic Society, the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History, the Library of Congress, the US Botanical Garden, the National Postal Museum, the National Building Museum, the National Archives and last but not least the National Air and Space Museum. This last museum is listed after the Louvres in Paris as the world's 2nd most visited yearly. It really has the WOW factor. I was able to see the ''Spirit of St. Louis'' which was the inspiration of a painting earlier this year -view link for update. 

We really tried to cram up as much as we could during our stay, but we only scratched the surface. With that said, we hope to return sometime in the next decade as there are more than a dozen museums we did not have time to visit.


  1. Living within a couple hours of DC for most of my life, it has always been a delightful destination that every citizen in this country should make a pilgrimage to see. Some of the standards (the Natural and National Museums, Air & Space, Portrait) are always a thrill, but the gems are often the missed places that offer so much. The Freer has one of the most amazing collections of very early Asian and mideast art - it is a must-see! (and the Peacock Room is an easter egg that I won't tell you about...gotta see it to believe it!)

  2. sounds like a wonderful trip...and you did quite a bit for such a short time! I have been there several times, but one of my favorites, was when the cherry blossoms were in bloom...truly beautiful! I always liked to visit the Davinci piece at the National Gallery of Art...and the Vermeers there as well. But yes, the portrait gallery is a fav too. (love the painting of Nixon by Norman Rockwell)! Hope you can visit again much to see :)
    and yes Jungkurth....the peacock room is amazing! :)

  3. Thank you both for your kind comments. We did walk pass the Freer and Arthur Sackler Gallerie, but by this time our son had ''museumitis''and had had his quota. I did google the Peacock Room and it is quite fabulous. One things about not being of seeing everything in one visit will make a second one worthwhile.
    Yes, Norman Rockwell painting's of Nixon is amazing. He really knew how to capture the essence of a person. There are so many gems in that combo museum, like Achelous and Hercules by Thomas Hart Benton, the Childe Hassam impressionist paintings and so many more contemporary portraits. Loved it so!

  4. How fun! I am a little jealous. I love Close and am so glad you included the photos of his work. Sounds like you had a great time!

  5. Just missed you, Alvin! We were there during Spring Break. We got to see the tail end of the cherry blossoms! I lived in DC for a few years and love the amount of culture that the city has to offer! Looks like you had a fabulous time:)

  6. Thank you to Carrie Waller for introducing me to your work. It is amazing, Alvin! I want to be you if I ever grow up! LOL! I am glad you both enjoyed D.C. I live in Ashburn, D.C., which is about a half hour from the National Mall w/o traffic, and although I was at the Boston Museum of Fine Art last weekend, and the Chicago Art Museum in March, it has been two yrs since I was in a D.C. Art museum. I need to work on that!

  7. Oops...I mean I live in Ashburn, VA...a distant suburb of D.C. Along the Potomac. Baltimore, which is only about an hour from D.C. Has some great art museums too. The Walker Museum is free and has a wonderful collection of realist paintings.

  8. Thanks Lisa, Carrie and Debra for checking's a city that needs several visit to see everything!