Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Museum Mania in Washington DC

One of the things that I love about visiting my family in Washington DC is that there are always excellent new museum exhibits (not to mention the old ones).  Some of the ones that we appreciated today:
  • The Museum of Natural History here has a new hall on Human Origins since the last time we visited.  It's a wonderful visual timeline of how we evolved from other life forms, what distinguishes humans from other primates, how long ago various human activities in communication and tool making first showed up, and similar information.  There are fossils and ancient tools and artifacts and videos, and even a computer that takes a picture of your face and shows what you would have looked like as an early human!
  • The Freer Gallery of Asian Art is a great resource to be able to wonder from room to room and compare the differentiation between distinct regions--Islamic versus Indian versus Japanese versus Korean versus Chinese ceramics, for example.  They have a special exhibit right now showing the influence that Asian Art had on what most of us think of as a traditional American artist, James Whistler.  In fact, it was Whistler that convinced Freer to start collecting the Asian art that eventually led to this whole art gallery.
  • The Arthur Sacker is showing an exhibit of Ancient Bronzes from Cambodia.  That's not an area that I know as much about as I should, and so discovered some interesting distinctions between their art and other Asian sculptures of the time.
  • The International Gallery has an exhibit of Contemporary Argentine Art, which was, again, fascinating.  It explored both political and environmental issues of that Southern land.
  • The Ripley Gallery had a display of pictures by children from Haiti that were done to help the healing after the major Earthquake.
That is only a small slice of all that is on here in DC, but at least it's a start, and all great topics for middle schoolers.  The museums of the Smithsonian really are a national treasure.

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