Americana – the Museums

Boston, MA to Washington D.C. – 1h 38min

Over the past (almost) two years I have turned my sights outward. I left my home country and language to take up the challenge of working (and living) in France. Moreover, I have had the great fortune to be welcomed into The German’s family and now look forward to visting the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt and eating bratwurst on many frigid Christmas Eves to come.

Despite my excitement about all of the new places I have explored, I have found myself becoming overtly patriotic. Never before being particularly politically active, my patriotism appears to be inversely proportional to my distance from home – the farther away I am, the more vociferously I defend my home country. Yet, besides AP US History in high school, I have never had the opportunity to delve into the nation’s history or visit the musuems and memorials built to commemorate it.

Several friends from graduate school have transplanted themselves, en masse, to the greater Washington, D.C. area and I was long overdue for a visit. Traveling mid-week meant that I would also have the time to play tourist and explore the city while they went about their work. I first took a bit of time to explore the sculpture garden that is part of the National Portrait Gallery, which was quite fun (including a spot-on replica of a Parisian metro station that really confused me for a few seconds).

(Identical to Paris – minus the stairs and tunnels, but including the sleeper in the corner)

(I like to think of this one as “Donnie Darko meets The Thinker“)

(This tree reminds me of UCSD)

Realizing that I needed a snack before deciding where to go next, I grabbed a hot dog from a kiosk on the Mall and ate it while enjoying the incredible view .

Unfortunately, it seemed that I had brought the rain and cold winds down from Boston with me, but this gave me a great excuse for digging around two fantastic museums – The Museum of American History and The Natural History Museum – for the rest of the day.

(The central exhibit after entering the is the original flag that inspired the writing of “The Star Spangled Banner“, located behind this metallic sculpture. Brought me to tears immediately. Way to start of a museum tour).

(The First Ladies exhibit was excellent – Mary Todd Lincoln had the smallest waist ever and Barbara Bush was a big woman).

(I watched an interactive discussion with children about the civil rights movement that started at this counter and was amazed to watch history come alive through their eyes.)

(Julia Child’s kitchen. Old PBS episodes playing in the background, including the one where she teaches how to make omelettes. She explains that she is making an omelette de fromage (cheese) for herself, omelette epinards (spinach) for her husband and, why not, omelette de fois (liver) for her mother-in-law. The whole room cracked up when she said that.)

(Medical tools from the Revolutionary War period, including a cartoon of amputation above – and the saw below).

(Vietnam War exhibit – as the first war that America watched on television, the exhibit was a collection of clips shown on 1970’s era TVs while sitting on overstuffed couches. Surreal).

(Who does not love dinosaurs, at any age ?)


(This guy would be SO dead)

Museuming can be a hard day’s work, but I was sure to save my energy to enjoy the evening with my friends – they were the ones I was here to see, after all. At least until the next day.

3 responses to “Americana – the Museums

  1. I’m sorry, but WHY for the love of beer would you waste your time with Delerium when you could be drinking any number of the delicious fruits of American labors? Belgian beer is cheaper and easier to come by in The France. (Speaking of patriotism…) 🙂

    • I blame this on American yuppie bar fascination with Belgian beer. Both places I ate out while in DC prominently featured Belgian beers on tap (along with the ubiquitous Guinness), so I followed suit. I clearly did not think it through in terms of the blog post, mainly it was a refreshing end to a long day 🙂

  2. Mmm..Delirium..good girl! Though croquecamille does make a good point about the strangeness of this being a patriotic post that ends with a foreign beer 😉

    I had a lovely time visiting all the museums when I was in DC too.

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