Final Exploration of the US Capital

In the latter half of May, after my official “intern-like” sandwich placement at The Morton Arboretum had ended, I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in Washington DC and New York City. Washington DC has many galleries and museums that are part of The Smithsonian Institution – nineteen total, plus the National Zoo. I managed to visit six of these over two days: National Museum of Natural History, Portrait Gallery, Hirshhorn, Freer Gallery Of Art, Sackler Gallery, and Renwick Gallery.

The National History Museum was the first museum on the agenda. Instead of being greeted by the fossil of a beloved Tyrannosaurus rex, as I am at The Field Museum in Chicago, an African elephant stands guard at the entrance. Named the Fénykövi elephant, it was the largest land mammal on display in a museum at the time of its unveiling in 1959. This history museum is not without bones, however. There is a whole hall dedicated to bones and osteology and even has an augmented reality app that fleshes out and brings to life the specimens. After the museum, the Portrait Gallery was next, mainly to see Former-President Barack Obama’s portrait. Sadly, Michelle Obama’s portrait had been moved so wasn’t easily found. On the same day, I also visited the Hirshhorn, Freer Gallery Of Art, and Sackler Gallery. At the Freer-Sackler Gallery, I was particularly fond of the Peacock Room and Monkeys Grasp for the Moon.

The following day, a day far hotter and drier than the previous one, I explored the National Mall – a large strip of land that features monuments and memorials. I particularly enjoyed the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, it’s large like the Lincoln Memorial but more empowering than it is imposing. Before that, however, I checked out the Burning Man exhibit at the Renwick Gallery. Burning Man is known for its large burning effigy, but what I didn’t know is that many artists exhibit other works, such as sculptures, at the event. The Renwick exhibit houses sculptures that draw inspiration from Burning Man as well as pieces by artists who have previously showcased their work at the event. I particularly liked the giant sculptures of crows, Untitled by Jack Champion. They just look cool!

I may never have visited these places, and definitely would’ve missed some of the exhibits I found interesting if it wasn’t for already being in the country due to my sandwich placement. I couldn’t recommend an experience like this abroad enough!

Sculptures On The Edge

This week I thought I’d give a little visual guide to the sculptures on campus. Most of these are centred around Eastern Campus, with a few cropping up around Main Building in the centre. Some of these are right out in the open, such as “Eden” or “Bingo Bango”, whilst others are a bit more hidden away, like “For Those Afraid Of The Torch” or “Monoliths” – which I’d never actually seen until the day I took these photos! Sometimes all it takes is a sense of purpose, to see what was in front of you the whole time.

One of my personal favourites, is our very own “Bingo Bango”, made of welded steel by Robert Scriven – many times have I walked through campus at night and had to do a little double-take, forgetting they were there. I’m also very fond of “Grazing Sow” and “Goat”, who both reside near bio-sciences, so I see them on my walk in every day as well.

Having these pieces of artwork dotting mostly the green spaces of our university campus really adds charm to the place and makes it feel more homely. I may not be an artist myself, but I sure do appreciate their presence here.

(Click the links below for a larger view!)

You can also pick up a guide from the main reception that will take you on a trail to see all of these sculptures and MORE!