Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2019

National Gallery of Art - East Building: The Life of Animals in Japanese Art

Date of Visit: June 7, 2019

As it started to approach summer, we had decided to forget about trying to check out any new exhibits until it cools off again in the fall. However, Mik is very into Japanese anything, so when I found out about "The Life of Animals in Japanese Art" at the National Gallery of Art, he very much wanted to check it out. Since the exhibit is only open until August 18, we decided it was better to go this week while there was still some not too hot and humid weather days (oh, how we miss when you couldn't say it was hot if it wasn't at least 100).

I originally meant to take the huge elevator down to the Concourse level to see the exhibit, but the way the security area was set up it looks it didn't appear to be accessible from the ground level. Thus, we ended up using the Tower 2 elevator from which you exit right into the middle of the exhibit. Turns out that have been the right elevator choice as the regular entrance from the concourse level has steps, so you have to use one of the two Tower 2 elevators to get into exhibit. We like the odd shape of the one form the lobby, but it is somewhat small and if you want more typical elevator, there is one to be found by going into the exhibit to the left.

When we got off the elevator, we choose to go right. It was pretty clear that we were doing the exhibit backwards, but I thought it was just because we entered in the middle and it would have been somewhat backwards one way or the other. However, when we got back around, we discovered that if you left from the elevator and go into "World of Leisure," you are soon at the beginning of the exhibit and could do it more in order. It really didn't make much of a difference, but it was kind of amusing to go through an area almost entirely before figuring out what the area's theme was and sometimes that wasn't until we were exiting into the next area.

Overall we both enjoyed this exhibit. The different helmets were our favorite part. Mik also really liked what he called the big bowls (i.e. chargers) and the mini octopus.

Destination Info:
National Gallery of Art - East Building
4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Freer Galley of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Date of Visit: February 5, 2019

We finally actually visited the Freer/Sackler after years of meaning to and ending up doings something else including at least once that we left home to go there and ended up at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden instead. I had visited once before, but this was Mik's first visit (and certainly not likely last as it's mostly temporary exhibits and even those he slept through half of this time...).

We started our visit on the B1 level with the "Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran" exhibit. Mik's favorite item in this exhibit was the sword. Visiting this exhibit first turned out to be the backwards way to do the museum as the way over to the Freer is through the back of this exhibit. It wasn't a big deal to backtrack and go through again. It just would've been more efficient to go left from the elevators and go counter-clockwise through the exhibits.

We next went through the "Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia." Again, we clearly were doing the museum backwards as the way we entered was designed as the end and we exited where the signage was more introductory.

Next we went through "Resound: Ancient Bells of China." This was my favorite exhibit as it was interesting to learn about the history and evolution of bells in China. I was going to just go home after this exhibit because Mik kept falling asleep through the Buddhas and the Bells, but Mik still wanted to see the Peacock Room, so headed over to the Freer next.

To get to the Freer, there is an elevator behind the stairs at the end of the gallery to the right of the gift shop (currently "Feast Your Eyes"). That elevator takes you to G. You then go down a hallway to another elevator past the stairs on the left. That elevator goes up to to 1 where the Freer Gallery of Art is located. This elevator is also the way to get to the accessible exit for the museum ("S").

We walked through the America exhibit on the way to the Peacock Room, which is mostly some paintings.

The Peacock Room was the main point of our visit and was definitely work seeing. Usually it has ceramics on display, but currently it's empty. Thus, you can really see how the room itself is a work of art and not just a place where art is displayed.

Before leaving, we wandered through the Korea and some of the China rooms. At this point, Mik admitted he was done for the day and we backtracked to the elevator to exit. (I also think you have to backtrack and go around building the other way to see everything as it appears there are stairs on the north side hallway that make it impossible to just roll all the way around.)

Overall we really enjoyed the Freer and Sackler. If we hadn't been approached by the lady at the info desk and given a map along with an explanation on how to get around, I'm not sure we would've experienced more than just the Sackler as the way to the Freer is rather hidden (and it's only accessed through the Sackler). There's also a "hidden" way over to the National Museum of American Art on B1 (currently the Bells exhibit), but that one does have its own entrance from the Enid A. Haupt Garden and a more obvious connection on B3.

Destination Info:
1050 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20560

Monday, September 11, 2017

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Date of Visit: September 11, 2017

Since we ended up having to cancel our WDW trip that was supposed to start yesterday, Mik and I decided it's about time we go to the Sackler Gallery. Well, that didn't happen as seems to always happen when we plan to go. This time it's because it's closed until the new temporary exhibits open next month. Thus, we decided to visit the National Museum of African Art, which is another Smithsonian that we have never visited (even I hadn't!).

The National Museum of African Art building is located in the Enid A. Haupt garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. The entrance has a button to activate the automatic door (and also serves as the accessible exit). It is a set of two doors and the button for the first door worked going in and out, but we couldn't get the next door to open either way. Both doors work, but there's only one button in the area between them. I'm not sure if there is a trick of like being patient enough for the first to close and then hit it to open the second or what, but it sure was quicker to just open the door manually.

We spent most of our visit in the main permanent exhibit called "African Mosaics." It seemed to contain mostly masks, but there was still a decent amount of variety to the art on display, especially considering it's not that big.

Visiting the African Art Museum for the first turned out to perhaps not be the best choice currently as at least half of its temporary exhibit space was currently in transition and even the supposedly indefinite Disney-Tishman Collection was closed. Also, for us, the only temporary exhibits open were not of much interest because they were video art. We did enjoy the permanent collection exhibits open ("African Mosaics" and "Currents: Water in African Art"), but found it ended up feeling more like when we go to a museum just to see a new temporary exhibit since there wasn't much to see here. Definitely, a museum that should probably be visited when you can connect over to the Sackler or at least the second sub-floor temporary exhibit space has something in it.

Destination Info:
National Museum of African Art
950 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20560

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Renwick Gallery

Date of Visit: May 2, 2017

Considering Mik enjoys art galleries, I'm not sure why I often overlooked suggesting the Renwick Gallery for an outing, especially since I remember it having a permanent exhibit in the Grand Salon that was my favorite back when I first lived in D.C. However, I now have been reminded that the Renwick Gallery closed for several years recently and they no longer have what I think was called something like Treasures of the Smithsonian. The exhibit in there now did turn out to be Mik's favorite part of the permanent exhibits, though.

As a historic building that was the first art museum in the United States, it is not surprising that the main front entrance is not accessible. The accessible entrance was easy to find on the 17th Street side of the building. While it does mean you enter through the basement that is more of a staff entrance, it is very well designed including a button operated door. There was also friendly security/bag check that didn't just point us to the elevator, but told us which level was for the temporary exhibits and which was for the permanent without even having to ask for information.

We started our visit with the temporary exhibits on the first floor. Since we came up the elevator, we ended up starting in the middle of the June Schwarcz exhibit, although you easily can navigate it from the start if you turn left for the center of the building instead of right into the exhibit like we did.

The June Schwarcz exhibit ended up being Mik's favorite part of the museum. He particularly enjoyed the bowls. He also had fun photographing them in different magic modes on his camera, especially since the museum has signs everywhere encouraging photography, which is the opposite of many art museums.

The first floor also has a gift shop, which normally I wouldn't mention even though gift shops are a must visit for Mik. However, this one is worth mentioning because the first thing Mik noticed about it is in the entry area there is a companion bathroom.

The second floor houses the permanent exhibits. Overall this area didn't interest us much. We did enjoy the little exhibit about the building's history, though. Mik also liked the carpet in the Grand Salon. The sparseness and just a hanging artwork and carpet make the space nice for multi-use, but the simple exhibit there really disappoints me in comparison to what it used to house.

Destination Info:
Renwick Gallery
1661 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20006

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

National Gallery of Art: West Building

Date of Visit: March 21, 2017

Today was yet another day we planned to visit the Sackler Gallery and ended up going somewhere else instead. This time it was because we realized a new exhibit we're interested in opens at the Sackler next month and some exhibits we were interested in at the National Gallery of Art recently opened.

Finding the entrance to the museum seemed simple as their website says that the accessible entrance is on 6th Street. This is kind of a confusing way of putting it, though, because to me that would mean an east or west side of building entrance and not the north side where 6th Street dead ends at the building. Thus, it's really on Constitution if you ask me. Really it still is easy to located, especially since every other entrance directs you to the accessible one.

Now finding where we wanted to go inside the museum was truly not anywhere near as easy as I thought. I even grabbed a map, which is something we rarely do these days in the museums around D.C. because we tend to just be heading to one specific exhibit and know the floor/wing for it. This time I knew the floor and everything from the website and had grabbed a map and yet only found the exhibits without asking because I remembered 11 years ago there was a special exhibit over by the 7th Street entrance and that really is the temporary exhibit spaced called Inner Tier on the website. Of course, it would've just made sense to ask where the exhibits were when I asked at information for a map, but I really thought a map was all the information I needed.

The main exhibit we went to see was "East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Photography." We found it an interesting look at early photography. Mik particularly liked the smaller ones because they were easier to see, which is probably since they weren't displayed and damaged by light as much.

This was Mik's first time visiting the West part of the National Gallery of Art, but he was too tired to explore more than the temporary exhibits on the Main Floor (and the gift shop, of course). He did get enough of a glimpse at the permanent exhibits to want to visit again and see more. In particular, we enjoyed the "Masterpieces of American Furniture from the Kaufman Collection, 1700-1830" exhibit that we passed through to find the temporary exhibits.

Destination Info:
National Gallery of Art - West Building 
4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

Date of Visit: February 24, 2017

Yesterday we originally set out to visit the Sackler Gallery, but instead ended up at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. It's been on our list to visit for quite awhile and since it was nice warm day, we decided to enjoy the nice weather and save the Sackler Galley for when it may be too hot (or cold) to enjoy an outdoor activity.

Mik enjoyed checking out the various sculptures in the garden, In particular, he had fun playing with the different art modes taking pictures of the globe sculpture. It is also nice that while it isn't really any bigger than the National Gallery of Art one on the other side of the mall and may even have fewer sculptures, it seems more like more of an experience because of the tiered design.

The tiered design does mean there's stairs, but there are nice long ramps to access all areas.

While the garden is all concrete/brick paths, the ramp access is only from the mall, which is a packed dirt/little bit of gravel path.

Another one of Mik's favorites was the vertebrate. I thought they looked like noses and Mik thought they looked like bones, which we found they were when we found the sign (this is the one thing that was sometimes annoying because they aren't always right there and some are hidden by overgrowth).

We also enjoyed playing Pokemon Go here as there was a gym that you could easily battle while also enjoying the music that plays in the one area. Also, you could get three Poke stops at once in the other part of the garden. Mik even thought this statue looked kind of like a Pokemon.

Destination Info:
Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden
7th St SW & Jefferson Dr. SW
Washington, D.C.

Monday, January 23, 2017

National Gallery of Art: East Building

Date of Visit: January 22, 2017

Somehow after all these years of visiting and living in the D.C. area the National Gallery of Art is one place Mik has never been except their sculpture garden, which reminds me I still haven't taken him over to the Hirshhorn one. The East Building in particular has been on our list to visit ever since it reopened in November.

One of my favorite parts of the museum is the Terrace, where they have a few sculptures on display and you can get a good view of Pennsylvania Avenue. Mik liked the giant rooster, but he thinks it should be repainted red.

He also really enjoyed the Alexander Calder pieces on display in one of the exhibits on the Terrace level.

Mik also had fun taking this picture of our cousin, Kirsten. He thought this art looked like a tongue and he knew if he asked her to stick her tongue out for a photo she would without question.

We did not have much time to explore the whole museum because Kirsten had to get on the road home, so we kind of bounced around to a few of the different towers and levels to get a general feel of what was on display currently. This did still allow us to experience what I think is the most interesting thing to do at this museum - the elevators.

The elevators vary greatly in size depending on where you are in the museum, although thankfully there are none that are like the tiny one at the National Portrait Gallery. The most fun in the giant elevator in Tower 3, especially if you can get it to yourself, which we did the first and last time we used it. The second time we were on it there were other people and Kirsten said that if there weren't any people in the elevator she could probably do a cartwheel in it. Thus, when we got on it to go back to the ground level to leave and we had it to ourselves I told her now she could do a cartwheel.

If you want to experience the terrace you have to go to that level from Tower 1 or 2. These towers both have elevators have a sort of hexagon shape and are quite small, but were still adequate for a wheelchair and probably five people. Tower 2 also has a second elevator near the stairs that is a good size for those that want to access the terrace and not experience the small elevators that can be kind of claustrophobic.

Mik's favorite piece of art was this one that reminds him of the art he has hanging in his room.

Overall it was a fun visit to the museum and Mik wants to go back to see the parts we missed this time.

Destination Info:
National Gallery of Art - East Building 
4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

Date of Visit: May 14, 2015

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley was something we ended up adding to our Skyline Drive trip because I noticed it had a miniature exhibit. Mik enjoyed that exhibit, but the temporary exhibit ended up being an even more interesting to him.

The temporary exhibit was called "Mort K√ľnstler: The Art of Adventure." The artwork and video was interesting to see. Mik particularly enjoyed it because he was already somewhat familiar with the artist's work.

Of course, the R. Lee Taylor Miniatures Collection was another highlight in Mik's opinion, although it was the smallest exhibit and thus not as impressive as the larger collection displayed in the temporary exhibit that happened to also match his interests.

The museum also features exhibits about the history of the Shenandoah Valley and 18th and 19th century items collected by the last owner of the Glen Burnie House, which the museum is associated with.

Destination Info:
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
901 Amherst Street
Winchester, VA, 22601 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

U.S. Capitol - Tour

Date of Visit: March 7, 2015

The last time we toured the Capitol as a family was probably the first time we took Mik to D.C. when he was about 3 or 4 (1997?). Of course, he doesn't remember that at all and the only thing I remember was waiting in an extremely long line outside and being pulled out of it to be given our own tour because they didn't accommodate wheelchairs with the regular tours. Everything is way different now with there being an actual visitor center, which we didn't even really visit because Mik and Mom were worn out after the touring part (regular and our own this time).

Dad had set up for the 11:20 tour, but since we got there about an hour early and Dad got passes for an earlier tour. The tour starts with a movie. You enter at the bottom of the theater and there's an elevator to the top where there's a row for wheelchairs and companions. Overall a good view of the movie, but the companion seats are kind of far back that the barrier in front ends up blocking the bottom of the screen. At first I thought it was just because I was short, but even Dad ended up noticing the issue. All it really blocks out, though, is the closed captioning, but still annoying in the sight line. Mik had no issue, though, because his wheelchair could roll up closer and also sat higher than the companion seats.

After the movie, you exit from the top of the theater and proceed to lines to join a tour group. Here you get headsets to better hear the guide when on the tour, although personally I found it unnecessary. The tour does go up and down stairs, but between each level you go over to the elevators (normally, someone escorts your group for this, I think, but since Dad works there and has a badge he was our escort).

Overall the tour isn't bad, but I'm glad we were able to then go back with Dad because I felt like you really only got to see one part of the Rotunda and crypt depending on where your guide stopped to talk about that room. Only in the Statuary Hall did it seem like you where able to really explore the whole room.

After our regular tour, Dad took us to the Hall of Columns and the Brumidi Corridors. I especially enjoyed the corridors off of the Hall of Columns, which had some really cool ceiling murals including the one below that I took by lying on the ground. I could've spent a lot more time looking at the murals and such, but Mik and Mom were getting tired, so we only briefly saw them.

Destination Info:
U.S. Capitol
East Capitol St NE & First St SE
Washington, D.C. 20004

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Art of Video Games Exhibit at Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Art of Video GamesDate of Visit: March 26, 2012

Mik was excited to go see the Art of Video Games Exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (see our accessibility review and more general visit recap from last year here).  The exhibit was pretty interesting showing video footage of a variety of games to illustrate the way graphic art has changed in video games over time.  Mik especially liked the area that showed the different game console systems along with example footage from four different games per system.

Another cool part of the exhibit is that there are some giant screen gaming stations that you can play.  There are a few different games to play from different systems, although the only one I can remember off the top of my head is Pac-Man because we actually tried that one.  Mik could reach and use the controls fine, but he quickly tired of it because he stunk at it.

Overall an awesome exhibit and worth checking out even though we did not want to see anything else at the museum that day.  It was definitely a convenient stop on the way back to the hotel after Ford's Theater.

Destination Info:
Smithsonian American Art Museum (same building as National Portrait Gallery)
Between G St and F St and 7th and 8th St
Washington, DC

Sunday, May 15, 2011

National Portrait Gallery

Ramp Date of Visit: March 21, 2011

The National Portrait Gallery is in the same building as the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, but that does not make it a small museum, but rather it is two big museums together in one huge building.  Even though it is just paintings to look at, it is a pretty daunting museum.  We mainly went here to get lunch from the cafe and eat it in the nice covered Pavillion area, but we also explored a few parts of the museum.

The accessible entrance to this museum is on the north side of the building.  There are long ramps on the side of the steps to get up to the entrance.  There are automatic doors to enter the building.  The same set is for going in and out, as they are designed to swing both ways, so that depending on what side you press the button they swing away from you.

The main area we went through was the Presidential Portrait Gallery.  Mik liked the spaciousness of the gallery and tried to roll around it away from me because he wanted to see other parts.  He did not like the carpet of the gallery that made rolling around harder, especially since he is never encounters carpets in his normal routines.  I noticed it was a little tougher to push him on the carpet than the rest of the museum, but it is not that bad.

The museum is in the Old Patent building and one of the most interesting exhibits is this little exhibit off the coat room that is easy to miss.  It has some information on the building's history including it hosting one of Lincoln's Inaugural balls.
Small Elevator
Small Elevator

The mezzanine exhibits on the third floor include a sports Champions exhibit.  I thought Mik would love this area being a sports fan, but he ended up hating it because the elevator to go up to it was barely larger than the wheelchair, moved slowly, and made some noise.  You have to be able to go in forward and then roll backwards out.  There was barely room for me to ride with Mik.  I cannot remember if the button was automatic like most Metro ones are or if you had to press it to go once inside, but I sure hope not as you cannot turn around and would have to hit it as you enter and hopefully the doors do not close if you roll in and forget to hit button.  Really could be a freaky experience as if it did get stuck you cannot reach the buttons.  The exhibit is quite small, so it is not like you miss much not going up there.  The other side of the mezzanine uses a big elevator, so not the same problems.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
National Portrait Gallery
Between G St and F St and 7th and 8th St
Washington, DC