Museum Scavenger Hunt Part II
If there is anything at all that makes one of my guy friends amazing, it’s his never-ending stream of creativity. This past weekend, he organized another Museum Scavenger hunt, proving once again that every time I think I have seen everything in D.C., I have not.
It started with the Freer Gallery of Art. My first clue was a Peacock. As we begin to walk the halls, I start to notice that the museum wasn’t built just to hold art, it was DESIGNED to house SPECIFIC art – all of it having an Asian influence. Not too long after entering and I stumbled upon the first clue – The Peacock Room. The story behind this room is incredible:
“The Peacock Room was originally designed by architect Thomas Jeckyll for British shipping magnate Frederick Leyland, who wanted a place to showcase his blue-and-white Chinese porcelain collection in his London home. When American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler redecorated the room in 1876 and 1877 as a “harmony in blue and gold,” he was inspired by the delicate patterns and vivid colors of the Chinese porcelains. Their slick surfaces, however, did not appeal to Freer, who favored complex surface textures and subtly toned glazes. After he purchased the Peacock Room and moved it from London to his mansion in Detroit in 1904, Freer filled the shelves with pots he had acquired from Egypt, Iran, Japan, China, and Korea. The current presentation of works is based on photographs taken in Freer’s Detroit residence in 1908.”
As we come to find out from a curator, this room was reconstructed in this museum with 27 crate shipments. She said everything had been restored, right down to the final detail, except for the backside of the shutters, which are a completely different color – she said the contrast is amazing.
From this clue, I was told to find the largest Buddah. Since there is a STRONG Asian influence throughout the two museums, any one of them could have been the largest. It turns out, it was sitting on the Sackler side and wasn’t actually sitting. In a dark room, full of Buddahs and other figures, there were three large LCD panels, displaying an excavation site, along with a rendering of how the room was mapped out. It was then I decided I wanted three LCD panels, at 120 inches each, to watch TV.
My final clue in this museum: Words over Water. In a four-story exhibit, what look like monkeys out of a barrel, are wrought iron links that hook up to the skylight and tower downward, over a fountain. At first glance, they look like Chinese characters. Instead, they are indeed monkeys that have been shaped to form words in 21 different languages, including: Chinese, English and Hebrew.
We continued to walk the halls to see what else these galleries had to offer (including some very odd work by Henrique Oliviera) but were quickly onto our next destination before making a stop. After our stop at the French Gardens and to head into the Castle Building for a bit of cool air (and to check out Jackie O’s replica jewelry and sunglasses collection for sale), we headed out to do something I have always wanted to do – ride the carousel. See, I’ve passed by the Carousel in the middle of the mall many times but have never actually taken a ride. On a beautiful day like the one we had, I couldn’t pass it up. What I could pass up – how fast this Carousel was actually going. See the video here:
Post ride, we stopped by the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden to take a break in the shade and enjoy the fountain that seems to take you away from the middle of the city – many forget that there are still places in DC with this much beauty. Soon, we were off to our next destination – the Botanical Gardens. To get there, we walked around the Hirshhorn Museum – definitely an odd place. Although we didn’t go in, the mind-altering two-story sculptures outside said enough.
Finally. After many blocks, we make it to a place I’ve heard so much about but have never been in. As we enter, I’m not quite sure what to expect. Soon, I felt like I landed in a different world – a whole globe, contained under one glass building. It’s a place I want to visit again – a place that stories could be inspired from a prize-winning photography is born. It was a great way to end a great day. See the pictures below.