Places to Go - Discovering Family-Friendly Art and History at the Corcoran & DAR Museums (Washington DC)
On Saturday, we headed over to the Corcoran Gallery of Art for their (FREE!) Great Escape Family Day celebration. This was our first visit to the Corcoran with the kids in tow and let me tell you - they REALLY know how to throw a party. We arrived to a teenage a cappella group singing Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel" on the museum's steps (and doing a fantastic job). Once inside, we immediately received a bag and program, while in the main auditorium a huge group of children gathered around a circus performer. Upstairs, different galleries offered face painting, crafts, and a family photo booth. Period costumed actors "masqueraded" throughout the museum, accompanied, in one room, by live music.
Of course (because this is how we roll lately), my kids ignored all of child-focused activities, asking if we could check out the art instead. So we explored Alex Prager's Face in the Crowd exhibit (which closed on Sunday) and played the "art game" while wandering through various modern art galleries (in the game, someone picks an adjective and everyone tries to find an artwork that best exemplifies the chosen word). All in all, a wonderful morning (and don't let my photos fool you, the museum was packed, only the modern art galleries were empty). I'm not sure what the future holds for the Corcoran (the museum recently merged with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University), but if they host another family day, we'll be there.
After leaving the Corcoran, we decided to spend some time on the National Mall and, while walking past Daughters of the American Revolution's ("DAR's") headquarters, the kids noticed a sign for DAR's museum and asked if we could go inside. Have any of you ever been here before? It's actually a cool (FREE!) off-the-beaten path destination. Upon arrival, we toured the museum's current exhibit on "Creating the Ideal Home 1800-1939" where displays focused on early tvs ("Mom, can you imagine only having 5 channels?") and vacuum cleaners that required two people to operate. The kids enjoyed attempting to lift a wooden bucket and a steel iron (somewhat ironically, this is the first iron my children have ever picked up). The exhibit was small and simple, but still a nice place to stop in for a few minutes.
We then toured (with a docent) the museum's "period" rooms, sponsored by various states. The rooms range between time periods and household income, thus offering numerous historical perspectives on the US experience. For example, the CA room focuses on turn-of-the century whaling, whereas the Texas sponsored room demonstrates German and Czech influence and decoration (I had a hard time photographing the interiors, but you can "tour" them all online here). Luckily, the docent knew the perfect details and stories to keep the kids entertained. And, the beautiful halls and library gave me plenty of material for photographs. The docent noted that in summer the museum opens up a third floor full of period children's toys and costumes, so we'll be checking that out in a few months.
Anyways, I don't usually think of the Corcoran or DAR as family destinations, but they both proved wonderful places to take the kids. And with the Lincoln Memorial so close, I now think of the National Mall's west end as a more dynamic place to visit.
For more information on the DAR museum, click here. And for more information on the Corcoran's family programing, click here.
A few weeks ago, a good friend hosted happy hour on a beautiful night that offered some relief from the snow storms and freezing temps of winter. On the way over, it felt great to finally linger outside without multiple layers of clothing and one of the dogs pulling at me and the camera. Plus, in an effort to break out of my creative rut, I had rented a lens for the week (a Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8) and enjoyed photographing our neighborhood from a wider angle (I normally shoot almost exclusively with my fixed Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L ,an absolutely beautiful lens but the inability to zoom in or out does become frustrating at times).
Usually, when taking photos, I hate that our streets our full of parked cars, but (perhaps because of the night's warmth) they didn't bother me in these shots, like us all the silent vehicles seemed like a necessary part of the place/the neighborhood/the night.
Now click on over to Cherish This Day and see what the rest of the group has been photographing lately.
Happy Friday everyone! Let's hope for a weekend free of storms!
* The Washingtonian's 2014 List of Washington DC's "Hidden Gems" - the museums section lists a lot of new-to-me places. Also, for local peeps, here's their list of the 2014 local James Beard award finalists.
* Amazon's List of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime, it's actually a pretty good list.
* One thing you MUST do in every state.
* 50 Amazing Finds from Google Earth.
* American Girl dolls used to be so much cooler.
* A ranking of all the Best Picture Oscar rankings. It's somewhat appalling how few of these movies I've seen.
We've read some awful children's books this winter, I'm not sure if it's bad luck, or bad moods, or bad publishing - but there's some truly horrid stuff out there. Then we somehow discovered Paul Meets Bernadette, a true "light in the fog."
It's beautiful, it's short, it's funny. T laughs out loud every time (literally every time) Bernadette describes a tea kettle as an elephant and the tea cups as baby elephants. Honestly, it's sort of the perfect book, especially during winter, when much like the fish, you're stuck inside and need some imagination to pull you through.
I'm writing this post on Sunday evening, while forecasters warn of impending snow, possibly 8 inches by morning. Businesses have sent emails notifying us of the Monday shut down, while the Arlington school system continues to monitor the situation. Part of me wants to yell, "NO MORE!" But the other part feels that winter seems a silly (and tiresome) thing to complain about. One can only sound like a broken record for so long before feeling the need to move on.
Friday night an old neighbor came to town and, along with another friend, we talked and drank wine until 3 in the morning. At first it seemed sad that we never took the time to have such wonderful conversations before, when we lived within a few houses of each other. Yet it also made the world seem like such a small place, where friends can leave and come back. As much as people complain about facebook, I find comfort in the fact that nobody is ever too far away anymore.
I spent most of Saturday tired and hung over, somewhat amazed that my kids are old enough to fend for themselves on such days - making their own lunches and breakfasts, coming up with craft projects, playing wii - while I camped out on the couch. Then Saturday night a friend and I attended Josh Ritter's acoustic show at the Lincoln Theater. Gregory Isakov opened and it felt surreal to watch two of my favorite artists on the same stage on the same night. The music was so vivid that it seemed like a play or a theater performance, immersive. I came home to our party room full of drunk neighborhood poker players, who all looked glazy-eyed and happy to be there.
Then Sunday I attended a day long National Geographic Workshop on Storytelling Photography, somewhat in awe as I listened to two world-renowned female photographers describe their process and experiences.
So, even with the impending snow, life is full right now and oddly amazing in its ordinariness. I've been thinking about success a lot lately, how such a seemingly simple concept becomes complex by middle age - when you look at your failures, your lost chances, and hold them up against the landscape of the life you've constructed. And, at least for now, the definition seems somewhat obvious - having friends over for dinner and a bottle of wine - good food on the plate, conversations that linger into odd hours, kids staying up way past bedtime. Surely everyone has their own definition, but, for now, I'm comfortable that this is mine.
Labels: Things to Do
* Reading Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa
* Listening to Slow Club's Paradise
* Watching The Way, Way Back
* Lorde's Pure Heroine (album) and Zedd's Stay the Night (song)
* Watching Frozen (finally)
* T's month long obsession with Curious George (thank you Arlington library system for making sure we could read them all)
* Reading The One and Only Ivan with the kids at night
* Reading Danial Alarcon's The Provincials (in The Best American Short Stories 2013)
* Reading Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland
* Homemade apple cake
* California barley bowls (via 101 Recipes)
* Venison tacos
* Farro casserole with leeks (via 101 Recipes)
* The 7 minute workout app and Belly Fat workout app
* The zoo with T and his friends
* Sledding at Thomas Jefferson middle school on a 15 degree snow day
* Great Wolf Lodge's Howlin' Tornado
* Riding Great Wolf Lodge's tube slides (over and over again) with T
* Neighborhood happy hour on our third snow day of the year (January 3)
* A huge house purge (esp. in the girls' room)
* A fantastic birthday weekend - Dan's brother & sister-in-law watched the kids so we could go to SpaWorld and Zatinya
* A great birthday - sleeping in (Dan walked the kids to school), lightroom all day, and family dinner at Silver Diner
* A new template for the blog and CCBlog Design's help with the fine tuning
* Both the girls had sleepovers on the same night and T had a fantastic babysitter (thus, a night out for us)
* An afternoon at Rachel's house, easiest playdate ever, plus great conversation
* F setting up her own "beauty potion salon" in our kitchen
* The blow up bed slide
* T and T making T's table into a fishing pond after I first suggested they make it into a cave ("it was an awful cave, mom, I'm not sure what you were thinking. but it's the perfect place to go fishing.")
* T's fortune cookie - "you are not a person to be ignored"
* Watson's visit - Thursday night Dominion and Saturday night 7 Wonders (til 3 in the morning)
* T to Coco - "Don't forget we're ninjas, okay? (1) Dog attack. (2) Find the enemy. Wait, are you sleeping. (3) NO SLEEPING!. Find the bad guys. Wait, are you sleeping again?"
THE KIDS' LISTS:
F- snow days, a nice house to live in and food to eat, Great Wolf Lodge, that we have everything we need and even a little more than we need, books, books about science, my cousins, sleepovers, that everything is so great, my family
P - school, my teacher, my cousins, my whole family, gymnastics, Great Wolf Lodge, sleeping over at my cousins' house, sledding, sleepovers, my dogs, popsicle parties [at school], my friends
T - Coco, a nice house to live in and food to eat, sleeping over at my cousins' house, Natalia, sleep