Hannah at the Hirshhorn

Yesterday and today have been all about art. We’ve explored the National Museum of African Art, the Renwick Gallery, the Hirshhorn (my personal favorite) and, today, the National Gallery of Art and its East Building. Below are some of our favorite photos and exhibits.

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We began at the Renwick Gallery, a small museum right next to the White House. Their permanent collection is amazing, with work from Wendell Castle (the iconic Ghost Clock), Steven Young Lee, and Judith Schaechter. Hannah really loved the mug wall, pictured left.

Next, we visited the Museum of African Art. I had never been before, and was surprised by how huge the building is – it extends three floors underground, with winding passageways and tons of galleries. Jim Chuchu’s video project Invocations is not to be missed – so haunting. The museum connects underground with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, which are currently under construction. Fortunately, you can still see one of my favorite displays, the Turquoise Mountain exhibit. Turquoise Mountain is a project that seeks to empower Afghani women by investing in traditional art forms. The exhibit is completely interactive, and invites you to pick up beautiful wooden panels (below), sit on lush couches, and examine ornate hand-crafted jewelry.

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We spent a while walking around the Smithsonian Gardens – the rose garden outside of the Arts & Industries Building is particularly beautiful. Check out the Smithsonian Castle below; it may be the prettiest Information Center in the country.

We finished up yesterday at the Hirshhorn. It’s one of my favorite galleries in DC, and I tour it frequently. I was lucky enough to see Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors last spring, and the museum frequently hosts cool cultural events like this acoustic performance and Q&A with OK Go. The Hirshhorn’s newest feature is Ai Weiwei‘s Trace, pictured at the top. The Chinese political activist and artist created a massive 360-degree wallpaper for the museum’s circular hallways, depicting security cameras, handcuffs, and the Twitter bird in a commentary on state suppression and free speech. His art lies on the ground, over a hundred portraits of political dissidents from around the world constructed from individually-placed LEGO bricks. His work will be at the Hirshhorn through January, so definitely check it out if you’re in DC.

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We began our day today with a quick walk through the Eastern Market. We enjoyed breakfast at Bullfrog Bagels and a churro from Alexa’s Empanadas (can you tell how much Hannah liked it?) before searching through the market’s stalls for a birthday present for our mom. (Sometimes, she reads my blog, so I can’t reveal what we found yet – updates to come).

We spent most of the day at the National Gallery of Art, and let me say, it was breathtaking. With hundreds of galleries and thousands of paintings in two buildings with multiple floors each, there’s way too much going on to take in all at once. Highlights for me were the Parisian galleries; Monet and Toulouse-Lautrec are two of my favorites. The East Building, accessible via sparkly underground tunnel and home to the museum’s modern art collection, was also amazing.

My time with Hannah has been incredibly fun. It’s hard to believe we only have one more day together in the city … but it’s bound to be a full one.

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