Now I’ll talk about the second half of the museums we enjoyed on July 4th in DC. OUr next stop was the National Museum of American Indian.I had never been to this museum before. In front there was a Peruvian folk festival that had food, music, and artisanal crafts. It was really neat to see it up and running on July 4th. We ate lunch there but it wasn’t terribly good. (I should have held out for someone who sold ceviche!)
In the museum, we headed upstairs to the top floor to check out two exhibitions. The first was “Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World.” It was one of the most breathtaking exhibitions I’ve been to. The main hall of it had a ceiling mimicking the night sky. So many stars. The exhibition looked at how different indigenous groups viewed the world. There were these little offset rooms that were dedicated to different tribes like the Mapuche. It was a wonderful way to present the philosophy/theology of various groups. My only complaint was that I was not sure where some of the groups were located. But it’s well worth a visit.
Next we went to “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.” It reviewed eight treaties that the US eventually (or quickly) broke. It’s a very important exhibition. I liked how it gave two perspectives in each display. One for the American Indian Nation involved and one for the US. While I have some knowledge of Native American history, it was astonishing to see the same pattern: treaty is made, kept for a time, and then broken. Century after century. THere was one exhibit that talked about how a treaty was better than no treaty as in the case of California where things were even worse for the various tribes without a treaty. It’s really a very important exhibition and well worth checking out.
Then we decided to check out the Natural History Museum. Because dinosaurs. This was the first museum that we had to wait in line outside for more than 5 minutes. The parade was over and everyone was heading to the popular museums like Air and Space. But once we got inside, we made a beeline for the dinosaurs. We did walk through an incredible exhibition of National Geographic photos of Africa. What incredible shots! It made me yearn to go back there again! One shot was a lizard with an extended tongue catching a fly. What an incredible shot! We finally found the dinosaurs, which was much smaller than either of us remembered. We said hi to the T-Rex and Triceratops and got the heck out of dodge. So crowded!
Our last two museums were the Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum, both housed in the same building. Unsurprisingly, there was no line to get into the museum. There was an awesome exhibit of photographs of current celebrities. There was a truly spectacular shot of Renee Fleming, luxurious and free. I got to see a little exhibition on Dolores Huerta, Latina leader in the California farm workers movement of the 1960s and 70s. I hadn’t really heard of her before but she was co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers. Very cool. My fiance was keen to check out the photos of generals from the Civil War. I spent some time contemplating an awesome shot of Busby Berkeley and another photo of Nat King Cole. We also wandered through the presidential portraits as my fiance tried to come up with jokes for each one.
Our visit to the American Art Museum was quick. We saw this impressive piece with all 50 states license plates with the Preamble of the Constitution. There was also this magnificent shrine made of tin foil and other similar materials in the folk section. (I think it was:James Hampton’s spiritual sculpture, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millenium General Assembly of the Nations’ Millenium General Assembly) And there were some lovely Hoppers.
That’s all for now! Next we’ll talk about our adventures in Alexandria, VA.