Archive for the ‘The Mall’ Category

NGA Half-Open for Inauguration

Lansdowne Portrait*

The Post‘s Inauguration Central has been posting regular updates on building openings and closings on and around the Mall for the big day, January 20.  Today they’ve got the news that the National Gallery of Art will be half-open and half-closed for Inauguration.  This will, no doubt, have serious repercussions on the restroom strategy of thousands of visitors!

The East (modern) Building, all shops and restaurants, and Sculpture Garden including the  skating rink will be closed, but the West Building’s Constitution Avenue entrance will be open.   The West Building is worth a visit anyway:  its Rotunda is decked out beautifully for the holidays!  Plus, they’ve got special Inaugural-type exhibits, including my favorite piece of Presidential art, Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne portrait of Washington (usually on display at the National Museum of American Art just up the street from NGA).  

Speaking of restroom strategy, or educational opportunities, most Smithsonian museums will be open on Jan. 20, although the Smithsonian Metro stop will be closed.

*Photo by Flickr user cliff1066, used under a Creative Commons License.

Inauguration 2009: Should You Take The Obama Way Into Town?

"Acela train sign" courtesy of Flickr user Savannah Grandfather

"Acela train sign" courtesy of Flickr user Savannah Grandfather

We all know that Joe Biden takes the train from Wilmington to Washington DC every day– if you don’t then you’ve been living under a rock.

If you have been you’ve also missed a whole lot more than that.

If you haven’t read my friend’s post from yesterday it looks like President-Elect Obama is taking a page out of his running mate’s playbook. The Inauguration committee has just announced that Barack Obama and Joe Biden will kicking off the inauguration with a series of events being held in Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore. The two will travel by train and will end their pre-inaugural rock tour in Washington D.C. After all, there’s nothing like a little train ride to hype up the already hyped Inauguration. I do however like the idea of spreading Inauguration out beyond the borders of Washington D.C. I wonder if this means the millions of people that will descend upon D.C. this year will try and hit up Baltimore on their way down. They could use the support.

Whether or not you decide to follow Obama on tour before the Inauguration, the only place you can’t be before Inauguration is The Mall. Several Federal officials have announced that overnight camping will not be allowed on The Mall. Also if you are going to try and stake out a spot for the Parade you will not be allowed to do so until 7 AM that morning.

While we are talking about things we can’t do- I just found this Washington Post article that discusses transportation options around Inauguration. It’s a good guide to refer to for anyone thinking about coming out for the swearing in. I’m very disappointed to hear that bicycles will not be allowed within the security cordon that has yet to be determined. That was going to be my strategy for avoiding the Metro. It seems as if walking is the best way to get anywhere- even in and out of the city. I can see it now, a scene straight out of Cloverfield, thousands of people trying to find an open bridge to walk across to escape DC.

Inauguration 2009: Newseum Open & The People’s Inauguration

"National Mall" courtesy of Flickr user NCinDC

Everyone is trying to figure out where to watch the ceremony, especially those that are coming into town tickets or not.

It’s been already assumed by many but the Inaugural committee has announced that the entire length of the National Mall will be open for the ceremony. Now any DC local or person that’s been there can tell you- there is going to be no view on the Lincoln Memorial side for it is 1.9 miles long in length from the Capital to the Lincoln. However many will want to just be there just to say they were there. There have been no official word on steps that will be taken to accommodate a full mall which CNN estimates to be 1 million people. Sounds like another million man (and woman) march that day.

"Capitol from Newseum" courtesy of Flickr user ktylerconk

"Capitol from Newseum" courtesy of Flickr user ktylerconk

Another place that will be open for Inauguration is the Newseum, which recently announced that the balconies building (EDIT: The Newseum has told me that they balconies will be closed to the public because the local and national media will be there with their cameras) will be open for regular visitors to the museum that day. The views from the building are certainly going to be a prime spot to view the Inaugural parade since the museum is located on Pennsylvania Ave. You can get complete Inaugural information at the Newseum’s website.

EDIT: The balconies may not be accessible to you but since the front is made of glass- you can actually enjoy a view of the Parade inside without standing in the cold! Also you they will be showing the ceremony on their 90-foot-long video wall.

After Obama is sworn in and the pardae marches down Washington everyone will be getting dressed up to celebrate at a local Inaugural Ball or Party. After the election one of the more high profile hotel deals out their was JW Marriot’s “Build Your Own Ball” deal where for only a cool $1 Million you can use the hotel to host your own Inaugural affair. Well the Washington Post recently profiled the man who spent that money- and will be throwing a ball for the disadvantaged. He’ll be providing tickets, tuxedos, make-up, and even an after ball breakfast to those who are “down on their luck.” He wants to everyone to be able to celebrate this historic event and is calling it “The People’s Inaugural Ball.” I encourage everyone to read the article- it’s a real heart warmer.

Preview: American History Museum

In three days the National Museum of American History reopens to the general public. I was fortunate to tour the renovated building yesterday.

The first thing I notice as I step through the Mall entrance of the American History Museum is how light it is. A skylight brightens the three story atrium and the artifacts, like a home computer circa 1985, that line the walls in 10 ft. cases. A grand staircase constructed of metal and glass connects the first and second floors.

As I walk into the Selin Welcome Center, videos preview some of the events and special exhibits on the four flat screens as helpful volunteers provide maps and membership information.


Mark your calendar: American History Museum Reopens November 21

Each time I volunteer at the Smithsonian, someone will inevitably ask, “Where are Dorothy’s slippers?” and “Where can I see the first ladies’ gowns?”. On November 21, the Smithsonian Institution will kick off a three-day festival to celebrate the reopening of the National Museum of American History.

The first 1,814 visitors through the museum doors will receive a special gift in honor of 1814, the year of the Battle of Baltimore when the Star-Spangled Banner waving at “dawn’s early light” inspired Francis Scott Key. The old favorites like the American Presidency, Julia Child’s kitchen, Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves, and America on the move will return on display with a new state-of-the-art gallery for the Star-Spangled Banner.

The museum closed in 2006 for an extensive $85 million renovation. The new interior features a skylit atrium and a grand staircase of metal and glass that connects the first and second floors. Artifact walls on the first and second floors will showcase some of the 3 million objects in the museum’s permanent collection.

So don’t miss the official ribbon cutting and plan to drop by between 10:00 am – 7:30 pm for the festivities.

Ben Folds At Constitution Hall



I don’t go to many concerts.

When it comes to paying for concert tickets I mostly stick with my favorite artists: Dave Matthews Band, Guster, and Ben Folds. I recently saw the latter at Constitution Hall. Now it’s not that I’m not open to checking out new music or artists- it’s just that when I go to a live show, I appreciate knowing at least some of the material on display.

Sitting down at the show I expected to hear some new and unfamiliar material- but I didn’t expect an entire show of unknown songs. Folds played all relatively unknown material; waiting til the “encore” to play a few familiar tunes.

After the show I could tell that the general reaction from the audience was mixed. Some appreciated to hear the new material that will end up in Fold’s newest album (which was not released yet at the time of the show.) Others were angry they didn’t get to hear familiar songs like “Brick”, “Army”, and “Rocking The Suburbs.”

I identify myself with the haters.

Now I enjoyed listening to the new songs and I will try and recognize a few when I buy the new album, however I would of enjoyed singing along to some songs I knew- which is something I do at all the DMB and Guster shows I attend.

Josh Eiserike at Inside Nova attempts to defend the show by brining to attention how terrible a concert at Constitution Hall is:

Constitution Hall has to be one of the worst places in D.C. to see a rock concert. It’s a seated venue, which pretty much sucks all the energy out of the room. Folds show are best when everyone is packed like sardines, singing along and feeding off the energy on stage. Seats are for the National Symphony Orchestra, not a guy who plays piano with his stool.

I strongly agree that the venue wasn’t that great- my date couldn’t resist to the urge to dance and wasn’t used to being restrained to a seat. She spent a lot of the concert dancing in the aisle, attracting the attention of other patrons and security. So if you want to know who brought the weird girl that was the only one dancing at the show- that was me.

Constitution Hall is probably not the best place to see a show but I still have to put some of the blame on Ben Folds- he could of mixed the material up a little better. Perhaps play more of the crowd favorites in between new material. However as a fan of Ben Folds I will not jeer at him like others might have that night- I am a fan of his music, not just his hit songs.

Pickup DC Style Ultimate Frisbee, Pickup Friends

Courtesy of Flickr User Kyle Walton

Courtesy of Flickr User Kyle Walton

I just found this ad on the Washington, DC Craigslist:

We have two long running pickup ultimate frisbee games that are looking for a few new players. A number of the regular players have recently headed off to new and exciting lives involving international travel, marriage, grad school or longrunning saturday morning hangovers, so a few new regulars would be welcome.

The pickup games are ALL skill level and very laid back. We have everyone from overweight shorter guys to incredibly sneaky and fast women to 6 foot 5 former college athletes and total novices. We welcome all ages and genders, and we generally don’t keep score. The spirit of ultimate frisbee is collegial and fun, and we try to make sure that everyone has a good time. Its just good exercise and a ton of fun.

I’ve seen these guys playing on the Mall before and it always looks like they are having a great time. Stop by and get some frisbee in. You might just see me there one of these days.

Saturday Game Location
Saturdays from 11am to 1pm
In the Field of Garisson Elementary School on the Corner of S and 11th NW-two blocks from the U street metro

Tuesday Game Location
Tuesdays from 6-8 pm
On the Mall in front of smithsonian air and Space museum. Corner of 7th and Jefferson SW

New Ocean Hall


image by flickr user jef safi under a CC license

image by flickr user jef safi under a CC license

This weekend is filled with all sorts of events and activities for the adventurous Washingtonian!  If you are feeling outdoors-y and energetic, why not try out BikeDC?  

But if you are not, the Smithsonian’s newly renovated Ocean Hall is having its grand opening celebration on Saturday.  The Aloha Boys and Tlingit Community will perform, before the unveiling.  There’ll be a Q&A with the museum team that worked on the exhibition (I have a friend who worked herself crazy on this project so I am very interested to hear about this!).   In addition, book signings etc will be happening around the museum during the day.  Check out the giant squids or whatever is on display, and maybe stop by and say hi to the Hope Diamond while you’re there.

TONIGHT: Bringing the Sea to Life

Image courtesy Zandra Rhodes

Image courtesy Zandra Rhodes

Zandra Rhodes, a British fashion designer, presents “Designing an Ocean-Themed Opera: The Pearl Fisheries” tonight in the Baird Auditorium of the Museum of Natural History at 6:45 pm. This free illustrated lecture will delve into her inspiration for the production of Georges Bizet’s exotic opera. She will talk about the sets and costumes as well as the challenges of bringing the sea to stage.

A book signing will follow the lecture. Copies of “Zandra Rhodes and the Art of Textiles” will be available for purchase in the museum book store.

6:45 p.m. – lecture
7:45 p.m. – book-signing

Free and open to the public.

National Museum of Natural History
Baird Auditorium, ground level
10th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Un-Bear-able Heat??

I took the above picture (on the phone-sorry for the blurry) this past Saturday at 23rd and Constitution-right where it turns into US-50 just south of Foggy Bottom.  My first thought “Well yeah you need help-you’re a Polar Bear and it’s sweltering out here!”

My second thought was an incredibly geeky thought that had to do with Lost, time-space travel and “Moving the Island.”  I won’t recount it fully here. 

After going back and forth over whether it was a person in a suit or just a suit (we determined it was just a suit) it appears I wasn’t the only person wondering if the National Zoo had become so overcrowded that Polar Bears had taken to wandering the streets homeless.  In what is likely another artsy/kinda vague/have to think about it for a minute demonstration/protest it appears that citizens concerned about global warming have been putting polar bear suits at different locales around the city in homeless garb. (As a friend put it “Ohhhhhh so like if Global Warming causes the ice to melt, like in Alaska, then the Polar Bears would be homeless! I totes get it!”)

Or at least that is the best guess so far-no one knows for sure. 

The Post picked up the story when one bear was called in as a suspicious package (it wasn’t, but-hey it could have been.  I mean The Dark Knight came out this summer and this would be a Joker-esque way to cause chaos…right?).  Add that to  fact that the demonstrators have yet to step forward to claim/explain the stunt, or even say how long it will go on for, and it leaves the question of what the ultimate disposition will be?

What about you DC?  Have you seen bears?  Lions?  Tigers?  Is this stunt going to get the point across, or will it be lost on all of us?  Know who’s responsible or have a good guess?  Then leave some comments, would ya?

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