Ryan and I have been trying to do something new around DC every weekend since I’m new to the City. A couple weekends ago, we went to the National Archives to see the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, and this past Saturday we went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. It was a beautiful day, and lucky for us, there were some great exhibitions.
I took some photos with my iPhone – won’t you take a tour with me?
Several of the exhibits had quotes painted on the walls to help you understand the surrounding art. This was my favorite, and Ryan mentioned all the quotes about art equally applied to entrepreneurship.
We didn’t know it, but there was an amazing Norman Rockwell exhibit going on, compiled from the private collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. I didn’t know much about Rockwell before the visit, but I definitely left with a huge appreciation for his art and storytelling abilities. He was the master at telling a story without giving away the plot or ending so you would be intrigued enough to buy the magazine or read the article his work accompanied.
My favorite was this piece called the Juror where a solitary woman sits with a large group of men all around her, presumably trying to persuade her towards their point of view.
Next, we moseyed on over to the National Portrait Gallery where we found a great exhibit on Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer. The photos are from the point just before Elvis Presley was really famous, and I thought the collection was superbly curated. You really felt the energy of anticipation and stardom as you walked through the different rooms. I only wished “Hound Dog” was playing in the background.
Finally, we decided to head up to the top floor and check on the modern art. Most of the pieces seemed to fall flat (although we did get to see some Georgia O’Keefe, Jenny Holzer and Edward Hopper) after the richness of Rockwell, but this installation was screaming for our attention.
It seemed gaudy and obvious at first, but I learned each television and the images projected on it was the artist’s impression of that State – whether personal or associative. It was pretty fun finding different States and comparing the artist’s associations with our own.
This is the type of modern art I love – shapes, geometric patterns and such. The placard next to the painting explained that the artist said, “Screw stories” or something like that, which I thought was a nice contrast after seeing the work of Rockwell.
Finally, here is a photo of how beautiful the architecture was in this museum, which really added to the experience. I can’t wait to go back, especially to try working in the amazing Courtyard Cafe. Do you have a favorite museum or piece of art you like to go visit? Let me know in the comments!