Tag Archives: sabbatical

National Portrait Gallery

Since the building was very close to a Metro stop, I made three visits to the National Portrait Gallery during my recent D.C. trip.

Part of this famous old building was the Civil War hospital where Clara Barton served.  She later founded the American Red Cross.  Walt Whitman walked these same floors.

And Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural ball was held in this room:

Amazing to think of the ghosts that inhabit this space!

From the third-floor Twentieth Century Americans exhibit, these performers caught my eye:

And of course I couldn’t miss the new portrait of Michelle Obama!

More pandas

Since my conference hotel in D.C. last week was an easy (uphill) walk to the National Zoo, I took some time to see the panda bears.

The male and female adults were in separate enclosures, and one of the three Washington-born panda cubs was on display in his indoor enclosure.

Mei Xiang, the momma.

Bei Bei the cub was adorable, and playful too!

Dumbarton

On my last day in Washington, D.C. last week, I visited two places that have long been on my list — Dumbarton House and Dumbarton Oaks.

These two estates, vastly different from each other, take their names from a grant of land made by Queen Anne in 1702.

Dumbarton House is a Georgian estate home sitting on the eastern edge of Georgetown. Visitors can gain a sense of what privilege was like in the early 1800s in the mid-Atlantic states. 

Tea-cup and saucer on table.
Entry hall.
Lockset on front door.
Vases on mantel.

Dumbarton Oaks is known variously for its collection of Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and European art works; for its extensive and impressive garden; for being the site of some of the talks that led to the establishment of the United Nations; and for Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks concerto.  Of interest to me was the Steinway D grand piano, with signed photos of masters who played in that massive music room — Stravinsky, Isaac Stern, Nadia Boulanger.

Guggenheim

In all of my NYC trips, I have never gone to the Guggenheim.  My continued attempts to go, only to find them closed, have become a private joke.

But this trip, I found them open, and with a magnificent exhibit of works of Hilma af Klint. These are otherworldly paintings, begun and finished in a white heat.

Group X, Alterpieces

A few of the museum’s permanent collection works were on display as well:

Degas: Dancers in Green and Yellow
Toulouse-Lautrec: In the Salon

NYC architecture cruise

Yufei kindly purchased an excursion for Friday morning, on an AIA tour completely circumnavigating Manhattan by boat.

With an architect on board, this tour was educational.  And with a glass of bubbly, this tour was fun too!

Sadly for us, the Spuyten Duyvil bridge couldn’t open in the extreme cold, so we missed the Hudson River on the upper west side of Manhattan — meaning no Cloisters, no Riverside Church, and so on.

But a good time had by the 20 or so folks on the boat.

One World Trade Center.
The low bridge at water level is the one that wouldn’t open. Looking westward on the Harlem River, toward the Hudson.