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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

visiting The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC…...

there are so many ways to engage with this topic.  The first will be with Clare's perspective:

Guest Blogger: - Saturday (3/29/14) morning before we left DC- Clare Leithauser, 13 yrs old.

On Thursday we went to the Portrait Gallery on a special tour early in the morning. I didn’t think it was going to be that interesting because lets just say I am not the biggest fan of art. When we got there we went up this exhibit called American Cool. It was about famous Americans who were “cool”.  To be considered “cool” they had to have 3 of 4 of special characteristics. The entire exhibit was spread out through 6 galleries in chronological order starting with Fredrick Douglas. Some of my favorite people were Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, and Jay Z, some of the more recent “cool” people. The exhibit was more interesting than I thought. I liked looking at the pictures of people and reading about them. The ones I could recognize were interesting to read about and talk about. We also talked about what being “cool” really was. It was being able to stay calm, which isn’t really how we use it today.

From Newark-Granville Road to DC….. The path has orgin with my childhood trips to DC.  Any "in-service" or day off of school I recall going to DC.  My parents embraced the easy drive from Hagerstown, MD and I have very fond memories on the mall and in museums.  The trips to DC continued when Joe and I married and he loved the time and looked forward to adding those to when ever we were "back home."  As soon as the kids were old enough we included them in exploring and revisiting the Smithsonian experiences.   A number few years ago we made the Spring Break Trip about DC and had an absolute blast- this was before I went to work at The Works- a Smithsonian Affiliate.  This year we made the call to return to Maryland for the Appalachian Trail trip and I decided to do something special for me. I reached out the the Affiliate Representative we have at The Works. What a delight it was to talk with her and she immediately recomended the tour of "American Cool." I followed her lead and couldn't be more pleased as she took me to the National Portrait Gallery- a museum I had never visited and one I highly recommend you visit!! The NPG is north of the mall and other Smithsonian destinations, probably why we hadn't gone there.

Why visit the Smithsonian- Donal W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture.  We invited others affiliated with the Works to join us but that didn't work out- so the Leithauser family lucked out with our own tour.  Now we'll do our best to share the fun we had and encourage you and other Works members to embrace this national treasure.  
  • It has a great metro stop (Gallery Place).  And believe it or not we found parking right in front- it was amazing! 
  • You have the opportunity to focus on one aspect of art and really learn about it- portraiture. We engaged our brains and thought about art in a whole new way- the "sitter" and the painter, the interaction.
  • American Cool is an exhibit that is very well done and shouldn't be missed. We highly  encourage you to engage with a docent! The inside information about the curators choices and selection makes it all the more memorable and meaningful.
  • The building itself is very inspiring:
    • architecture, art, history and innovation - so Works like- the museum is housed in the original patent building, the 3rd floor held President Lincoln's Inaugural Ball! 
    • Kogod Courtyard- canopy of glass (again Works love showing through) is gorgeous and is quite a lovely place to relax, people watch and soak in the majesty all around.
    • The Lunder Conservation Center - allows public viewing of preservation activity!
    • so much incredible art- the American President's was a favorite but there were many more…I loved seeing Katherine Hepburn's Oscars with a stunning comfortable portrait. Peter loved the Champions (we all did actually) on the 3rd Floor's mezzanine.
  • It is in in Washington DC- every American should visit our Nation's capital. There is so much to be be proud of, to honor and embrace as active citizens!!
Tips for your visit:
Know that Washington, DC really isn't that far and there is sooo much to do!
  • First secure a Works Club level membership. This way you have the discounts- all Works members at this level are connected to the Smithsonian Affiliate membership. You'll get your own card and you'll get discounts in the cafeterias of all the museums and gift shops.  Smithsonian museum entrance is free (although if you can make a donation- this really helps.)
  • Consider the metro- kids LOVE it and they learn how to navigate a fun engineering wonder- it is safe and clean.
  • Will will need to plan and pace your self- you can't do it all. Lots and lots and lots of museums, monuments and must-sees like the library of congress, the capital building, the white house, the archives…the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is another favorite- see manufacturing in action- making the money!! It is free- pick up tickets in the morning.
  •   plan ahead, be prepared!
I could go on and on about our trip and fun, pointers, recommendations but I'll say my life on Newark-Granville Road is much richer because of this incredible family trip. I value and appreciate The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology for connecting me to the NPG- the works mission is to inspire and prepare the future workforce…..last week's visit to the Portrait Gallery did that over and over again. Thanks for reading and sharing this trip with me- I look forward to hearing about your visit and which portrait is your favorite!

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