Friday, February 5, 2010

D.C.: The Place to Be (sans below-freezing temps...)

Last week I enjoyed the incredible opportunity of traveling to D.C. with curators from my museum in order to view object candidates for our upcoming exhibit.
Several years ago I interned at an auction house and worked hands-on with many pieces, but something about the idea of a trip that incorporated in-person art observation along with scholarly research was particularly enticing; it felt like my first real steps in a curator's shoes.

When I departed NYC it was snowing, as you can see from my view of Central Park. Since there was no snow in D.C.'s forecast I felt assured it would be warmer. Oh, the folly of assumption...

I arrived in The District to a lovely welcome from Union Station.

I set off straightaway into the cold to visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery. They boast an excellent art collection that structurally coalesces around Norman Foster's gorgeous Kogod Courtyard:

Following my afternoon spent at S.A.A.M., I met up with two D.C.-based childhood friends for dinner at Georgia Brown's!
WRG and PMH happily settled into heaping portions of sumptuous soul food...

The cornbread is molded to resemble actual corn on the cob!
It's a cute, somewhat kitschy detail in an otherwise elegant restaurant.

They also serve up some of the finest fried green tomatoes known to man:

Like any respectable D.C. institution, Georgia Brown's played host to a political fundraiser taking place mere feet from our table. It was just what I'd expect from a place that was (supposedly) Bill Clinton's favorite D.C. haunt!

I spent the following morning conducting research at the Archives of American Art.
It was an intellectually electrifying adventure. I read an RSVP that was written by Letitia Baldridge on behalf of Jackie Kennedy, and touched correspondence--from mundane receipts to major planning documents-- that shaped a crucial event pertaining to my exhibition. Had I known how to research this efficiently when I was 21 I would have savored writing my Princeton thesis.
Alas, I'm grateful for finally having acquired this skill set pre-grad school!

After wrapping up my queries I visited the Corcoran Gallery and was given a behind-the-scenes tour, and a peek into the conservation lab at a painting of particular interest to my project.

In taking the scenic route from the Corcoran to my next stop, the National Gallery of Art, I passed by the White House. Is it possible to feel anything but complete patriotic adoration at the site of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

I submit that it is not!

I also took a quick stop to admire the skaters at, and the sculptures around, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink.

Anyone who's visited the Princeton Art Museum in the last few years will be struck by the familiarity of Magdalena Abakanowicz's contribution to the garden:

My final destination, the NGA, was a complete delight. Highlights from the Dale Collection merely underscored the astonishing breadth and depth of the museum's collection, and I think we should all be very proud to call these our NATIONAL holdings.

It was a short but worthwhile visit. I look forward to returning for more art, more research and more good time with friends (Miss Mindless, this means You!).


Patrice said...

Sounds like you did a great job packing art in during your short visit! I'd love to go to a museum with you next time you're here and learn better how to look at art from you.

Also, thanks for posting the picture of the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink. I mean to go there every winter but always forget, but this reminds me that i need to go soon!

BLC :o said...

Oh la la! I never ever tire of DC. Isn't it fabulous? I just checked my zoo pass and it said "free admission to the DC zoo" ... isn't it always free!? The beauty of DC. Xoxo-BLC