Saturday, October 18, 2008

National Portrait Gallery

After lunch on Saturday Will, Mary, Maggie, and I hotfooted it over to the nearest Metro stop to see another museum on our "Must See in DC" list. After first getting on the wrong train, scuttling off red-faced at the next station, and then waiting for the train going downtown we emerged at the Chinatown station and walked across the street to the entrance of the Donald Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture. We were thrilled to "spy" the International Spy museum catty-corner from the Metro station because Will and one of his aunties are planning on a one-on-one trip sometime soon.

Unfortunately my digital camera's batteries died right as I went to take my first picture, despite reminding myself this morning to put fresh batteries in my bag. Oh well. The first floor portraits consisted of many famous Americans, including inventors, writers, signers of the Declaration, and military men. We skipped the "Women of Our Time" exhibit and instead looked at paintings of Julia Ward Howe (wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic), Harriet Beecher Stowe (wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin), and Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girls Scouts). Upstairs we wandered through the America's Presidents exhibit featuring magnificent paintings of Washington, Lincoln, and Jackson. I was impressed by the children recollection of many people from their lessons in early American history including Ben Franklin, Marquis de Lafayette, Daniel Boone, and Meriwether Lewis. Will rattled off the 3 main differences of opinion between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton as we were standing in front of the latter's portrait, a sure sign of homeschooling excellence, that is, if anyone had been around to hear him.

The museum wasn't terribly crowded and we managed to get downtown, tour the portrait galleries, and make it back home in about 3 hours, quite do-able for an elementary age crowd. The little boys would have loved the train ride, but getting anything but a cursory glance at the paintings would have been almost impossible.

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