Tuesday, February 3, 2015

National Building Museum: HOT TO COLD an odyssey of architectural adaptation

Date of Visit: February 3, 2015

The "HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation" exhibit features over 60 architectural models suspended from the balconies of the Great Hall. As the Great Hall area is open to the public, you can view most of the exhibit without paying admission. With admission, though, you can go into the second floor gallery that includes more models and videos.

The exhibit is mainly experienced walking around the 2nd floor balcony, but from the first floor you can also look up and see symbols and colors on the bottom that reflect how they represent locales from hot to cold climates.

Mik enjoyed checking out the various models. Of most interest to him was the Phoenix Observation Tower (i.e. Big Pin), which is proposed for near Chase Field. I thought it was absurd, but he thinks it could be a cool way to watch a baseball game (seems too high a view for that).

The Smithsonian South Mall campus plan and St. Petersburg Pier idea were some of our other favorite models.

This exhibit is on display through August 15, 2015.

Destination Info:
National Building Museum
401 F St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Accessibility Note:  The accessible entrance to the museum is G Street. The Judiciary Square Metro (Red) is the closest, but since we live near Yellow Line we find the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro (Yellow/Green/Red) more convenient as it is faster/easier to just walk/roll an extra block or so than transferring to Red Line for one stop. More details in our first review of the museum here.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

National Museum of Natural History: Orchids Interlocking Science and Beauty Exhibit

Date of Visit: January 25, 2015

The "Orchids: Interlocking Science and Beauty" is a special exhibit that opened yesterday at the National Museum of Natural History. The exhibit is located on the 1st floor and while it is quite small, it was definitely worth a visit.

Mik especially enjoyed seeing the different colors and styles of orchids on display. It was also interesting to learn about the history of collecting and transporting orchids, which began in the Victorian era.

Destination Info:

National Museum of Natural History
10th St and Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC

Accessibility Note: The accessible entrance to the museum is on the Constitution Avenue side of the building. The Smithsonian Metro is usually recommended for the museum; but we find Federal Triangle (Blue, Orange, Silver) and Archives (Yellow, Green) to be closer or just as convenient since the elevator exit for Smithsonian is on opposite side of the National Mall.

Our Other Current National Museum of Natural History Exhibits Posts

Thursday, January 15, 2015

National Museum of the American Indian

Date of Visit: January 15, 2015

We've been meaning to visit the National Museum of the American Indian ever since the Nation to Nation exhibit on treaties opened back in September. Waiting until now worked out well, though, as a new temporary exhibit opened this week ("Commemorating Controversy: The Dakota—U.S. War of 1862") and we still got to see the first treaty on display before they switch it out next month.

Since the last time we visited this museum was back in 2006, we ended up wandering through most of the museum. Most of our time was spent in the "Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations" exhibit, but by the end Mik said it seemed too repetitive. I guess to some extent it kind of was with it being making the treaties and then how they were broken or honored with each panel given the perspective from both sides. Mostly, though, I think it was more that he got overwhelmed with information because it covered quite a bit.

Mik's favorite parts of the museum were the displays in the atrium near the elevators on the 4th and 3rd floor. Most interesting to him was the interactive touch screens for the Window on the Collection Exhibitions, which allowed him to get a close up look at the artifacts on display. The ones on the 4th floor (pictured above) were a little tough for him to get up to and use, but once he figured out a good position he spent quite a bit of time using it. The ones on the 3rd floor are slightly different in set up and were easier for him to use.

He also liked the little question and answer displays interactive turning displays that were related to the Nation to Nation exhibit.

He enjoyed watching some of the videos in the Our Universes exhibit. However, some of them were on small low screens in front of a high backed bench, which while architecturally cool they made it impossible to view them well because there was no good angle to roll close enough for him to get a decent view of the screen.

Other than the issue with the design of the screens and benches in the Our Universe exhibit the museum is a good very modern accessible conscious designed museum. This includes button activated automatic doors to enter the building and companion bathrooms at least on the third and fourth floor. Of course, there are also elevators, which Mik was quick to say we had to take a picture of to add to photos of cool elevators we've encountered. The elevators are also nice and large, although the call buttons by each are almost too well blended with the decor/architectural design.

Destination Info:

National Museum of the American Indian
4th St & Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Market House in Fayetteville

Date of Visit: December 11, 2014

The reason we stopped in Fayetteville on our way to Florida was to look for a book for my 1940s collection at City Center Gallery & Books, but we ended up also enjoying walking around a little in downtown Fayetteville reading the history signs.  In particular, we enjoyed checking out the Market House.

At first we thought it was odd that the crosswalks over to the Market House in the middle of the Market Square roundabout did not match up with the ramp, but then we noticed it seems the whole lane right around the Market House has a yellow line so it actually is set up for walking in it from the crosswalk to where the ramp is.

It was a little cold for Mik, but he still enjoyed reading the plaques about the history of the Market House and how it stands on the site of where North Carolina adopted the Constitution. Despite how the photo below looks, he even was happy to do another Christmas Tree photo for the collage I'm working on of him and various Christmas trees this year.

Destination Info:
Market House
Market Square
Fayetteville, NC

Sunday, December 7, 2014

National Christmas Tree

Date of Visit: December 7, 2014

Today we decided to take advantage of it being a sunny day to visit the National Christmas Tree. Plus, Mom was in town this weekend; so going today allowed us to make it more of a family outing.

I remembered seeing it and all the little trees decorated for each state and territory back in 2007; so Mik was excited to see the different state trees and wanted to do pictures of us in front of the ones for the states we have lived in. Unfortunately, this year the trees have gone too high tech in our opinion; because they are just lights with some sort of Google coding program thing. Basically, they all look exactly the same during the day; but maybe they each have different light things going on at night?

The National Tree has never been all that much to see as it as always been pretty simply decorated. The train displays around it are still fun to watch. Plus, they have rather smooth pathways put over the grass to make going around the trees pretty easy unlike the Capitol Tree, which would actually have been more interesting if there had been a path to go through the grass easy with the wheelchair and get a closer look at it's decorations.
Well, earlier this week we thought the Capitol Christmas Tree wasn't worth a visit on it's own; but after seeing the way they did National Christmas Tree and more specifically the Christmas Pathway of Peace (i.e. state and territory trees) the Capitol Tree actually is more worth a visit than that (or at  least during the day). Bottom line is I struck out with two out of the three holiday things I planned to do with Mik and the bonus of the Capitol Christmas tree actually ends up in second. I could of said from the start the U.S. Botanic Garden's Season's Greetings would be the favorite; but from what I remembered the National Christmas Tree experience was at least up there in enjoyment. Things have sure changed over the years, especially this year going to the Google code thing for all the little trees. I guess nice to be promoting coding for girls; but so much for embracing diversity as it seems to somewhat promote the opposite with all the same looking trees at least during the day and seeming somewhat exclusionary.

Destination Info:
National Christmas Tree
President's Park (south of White House)
Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Capitol Christmas Tree 2014

Date of Visit: December 3, 2014

We didn't plan on visiting the Capitol Christmas Tree (i.e. the People's Christmas Tree) this year; but since it was right across the street when we visited the must-see Season's Greetings exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden, we decided why not do another Christmas tree photo to go with the Norwegian one from this past weekend and the National Christmas Tree, which is on our plan for next week.

It certainly is not worth a visit on it's own in our opinion; but it is right there if you're already going to the Botanic Garden. There is a ramp to get up to the grass area where the tree is; but the sidewalk part ends a little bit into the area. I didn't mind pushing Mik closer; but he didn't feel like an off road adventure; so we just did a picture from the where the sidewalk ends (and no I don't think he understands this is a Shel Silverstein reference...apparently Dad only read those to me as a kid).

Destination Info:

Capitol Christmas Tree
East Side of Capitol
Washington, DC

Season's Greenings 2014 at United States Botanic Garden

Date of Visit: December 3, 2014

Mik was a little leery about the Season's Greenings exhibit at the United States Botanic Garden being something he would love as I kind of lost my credibility from the Union Station outing the other day. However, I quickly gained it back as soon as we entered the Garden Court and he saw the Capitol Building model; and he now totally understood why I took him to Union Station first as it would have been way more ho hum if we visited after this even if their model train was running.

The first area you enter is the Garden Court and they have traffic controlled to go to the right to the Model Train exhibit in the East Gallery. The Garden Court is kind of set up as a miniature National Mall with several building models made of plant materials. Most you can see better when coming back around to the Garden Court before exiting; but the Supreme Court one is along the one way path into the Model Train exhibit.

This year's theme for the Model Train exhibit is the Seven Seas. Mik absolutely loved this area, which reminded him a little of the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson (one of his favorite museums ever as a miniature lover). He enjoyed looking at the various lighthouse models as well as the ships.

Mik choose the Block Island Southeast Lighthouse as his favorite model.

For the ship models his favorite was, of course, Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge.

The trains were okay. The whole Thomas the Train thing is little too on the kiddie side and the more realistic trains are up high and thus a little hard to really enjoy. However, we did find the dragon one to be a cool and surprising part of the exhibit.

Near the exit there is a tunnel to go through that has little displays like you're under the sea. They seem to represent 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Mik was glad we decided on the manual chair today not only because he could really enjoy the exhibit and not worry about maneuvering around all the little kids; but also because he wouldn't have probably been too tall to do the tunnel part in it.

Before heading back to the Garden Court to see the rest of the D.C. landmark models we wandered through parts of the rest of the Botanic Garden including visiting the desert area where Mik declared he loves the fuzzy cacti the most; but as an Arizona boy he would never dare get anywhere near too close to any cacti no matter how snuggy they look.

We also visited the West Gallery where there is a large Christmas tree decorated, which includes some more miniature buildings and a train going around it. We didn't stay here long since a bunch of little kids were playing and having fun in here and Mik didn't like the loudness that resulted from that.

Final area to explore was the Garden Court where I had to show Mik the White House model to show him how ridiculous it was that he called the Capitol model the White House when we first entered the Botanic Garden. By the way he had kind of already realized was a very silly thing to have said as the Botanic Garden is right next to the Capitol and we were talking about it being ugly with the scaffolding before we entered the Botanic Garden and saw the model.

When we first got to the Botanic Garden he had wanted to do a photo in front of the Capitol model when we got around to the front of it before leaving. However, as we were about to do that I pointed out the Botanic Garden model and he decided that made more sense.

Destination Info:
United States Botanic Garden
100 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20001