Monday, January 7, 2013

Get Smithsonian

One of the best things about Washington DC is the free museums that come from the downtown national mall. As a kid, the Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space Museum trumped them all, but of late I've gravitated to some of the more adult options--the National Gallery of Art, the Hirschhorn, and the National Botanical Conservatory are all things to rave about. On my most recent trip home, I went about the National Gallery and the Hirschhorn to satisfy the artistic cravings I've been having lately. I was most attracted to the pieces that did something new and interesting with light, either by manipulating it or using it in a unique way to give life to the space around the artwork. 

In the National Gallery, to connect the East and West (contemporary and old) wings, you'll find this AWESOME light tunnel. My excitement was topped only by the toddlers running to and fro beneath the lights with me. The tunnel gives you the impression of moving at warpspeed, or time traveling from the days of the ancient artistic masters of the West wing to the contemporaries of today in the East wing. 

In the East wing, the skylights caught my eye. Designed by I.M. Pei, this magnificent structure has something interesting everywhere you look. The sharp angles and unexpected turns to the different floors guide your eye toward the exhibits, like this massive hanging Calder piece in the main entrance. 

Over at the Hirschhorn, we discovered the Ai WeiWei exhibit. Best known in the USA for his recent work designing the Beijing Bird's Nest stadium for the Olympics, his is not as known for his political role as a sculptor and photographer. I loved this quote that the exhibit paired with this stool sculpture. 

I also LOVED his piece "The Cube." Like the National Gallery's tunnel, the cube was a beautiful exhibition of light manipulation and changing space. 

Over at the Natural History museum, we found the Windland Smith Rice International Awards for nature photography on display. These absolutely stunning pieces brought artistic forms out of the natural world. 

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