Scenes from the Smithsonian


We headed downtown last week for a field trip at the Natural History Museum. I set up a class at the new Q?rius classroom for John and other middle school and high school kids at our co-op. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend these classes. They are free, interactive, hands-on and really high quality science. If you aren’t in the area, check out the website anyway. They have other resources like live (and archived) webcasts with Smithsonian scientists. While John was in the class, David, Ruth and I had a good time hanging out in the museum.


After the class was over, we all headed to the Museum of the American Indian for lunch (with a brief stop on the overpriced but picturesque carousel). If we are going to spend money on the Mall for lunch, this is where we go. It’s not cheap but the food is excellent. The building is also really beautiful and I always enjoy going inside. I’m not as big a fan of the content which is a bit on the light side, but this day we lucked out and happened on a lunchtime concert by a Chilean music group playing traditional instruments. Ruth and David loved the music and broke out into a wild dance. David in particular could not keep his feet still and was eliciting many smiles from the smallish lunchtime crowd.

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Perhaps the best part of the day for the kids was racing leaf boats down the waterfall outside the Museum  of the American Indian. They could have stayed for much longer than I was willing to. And we stayed quite awhile.

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Finally, we ended up at the National Gallery of Art. Despite all our best efforts, none of our kids like art museums. John hates them and says they put him to sleep. David loves art and I think wants to like looking at it but isn’t there yet. And Ruth doesn’t have the attention span for looking at paintings. However, I really wanted to see the Andrew Wyeth show and one on Degas and Cassett so I made them go. I particularly enjoyed the Andrew Wyeth show. They do all enjoy riding the moving sidewalks back and forth through the light instillation between the East and West wings so we also did that.

As we were leaving I saw a sign for the gallery with Degas’ Little Dancer sculpture. David took an art class this summer where they had studied it so I wanted to show him the real thing. As we wound through the galleries looking for the right one we passed works by Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, Renoir and Degas. I pointed out several of them and we talked briefly as we passed about books we had read about the artists (posts on Matisse and Picasso) and on some of the techniques we had learned about. Art study is something I always feel like we do kind of haphazard but this trip made me realize first of all that we have talked about a lot, even it it’s not necessarily in some kind of systematic or formal way. And secondly, it made me appreciate again where we live and the fantastic resources we have available to us.


Lest all that sound too lofty I’ll fully admit that if you asked them what the best part of the day was they would probably say the leaf boats. Or maybe riding the Metro. Followed by the sticky sweet fry bread at the Indian Museum. They are kids with their priorities firmly in order.

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