Maximizing Museums and Monuments


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Published: September 17th 2014
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Jefferson MonumentJefferson MonumentJefferson Monument

One of our favorites.
Living near one of the storied cities of the world provides endless diversions. We last lived near D.C. in 1996 and then, only for a short while. Just when we were getting in the rythym of this happening place, we had to leave and always told one another that there was “unfinished business,” as there were so many sights to take in.

Fast forward some 18 years (really?) and we were back and this time hell bent to take in as much as the city had to offer, not wanting to be a similar position. Now, we want you to know that we really enjoy visiting museums and monuments. Fortunately our approach to visiting them is insanely similar, or maybe that is sanely similar. It would be inappropriate to describe ourselves as museum geeks that can spend endless hours reading each wonderful detail and minutia of history that they have prepared for us to better understand a different time and people. This is just simply not the case.

The other way of looking at this is that there is no way you can remember all this information. It is just too much. We're not Mensa International members, but fairly intelligent folk who are quite curious. There are times when we might like to be able to spend endless hours reading, reading, reading and absorbing but we can’t do it. We simply max out at about two hours. Depending on the size of the museum we generally read a lot of detail the first thirty to forty minutes and skim a bit after that. If you get a good base in the beginning it can carry you through the rest of the museum. It works well for us, which is extremely lucky or otherwise, one of us would be fully immersed, while the other would be bored out of their skulls waiting on the other.



We’d love to hear what your museum style is. We are sure we all do it a bit differently. This could make for some very interesting conversation.



The District of Columbia is one of the amazing cities of the world. We never tire of the grandeur it has to offer. It takes our breath away each time we visit. Each direction you look you will find some amazing museum, a historic building, a stunning monument or an architectural marvel
Museum of Natural HistoryMuseum of Natural HistoryMuseum of Natural History

These creatures are fantastic...and a bit scary!
that could be new or old. A veritable cornucopia of both structure and form. The history of this "district" is quite unique and there was actually talk of moving it west, but President Ulysses Grant in the 1870's put and end to such talk and the city we know today is a wonderful place to visit.



Ironically, thanks to an Englishman named Smithson, there exists the Smithsonian museums. How did this come about? Well, the short of it is that Smithson was wealthy from multiple inheritances, unmarried, and in his will, he stipulated that the money be left to his nephew. If his nephew died without a family, the whole of his estate would be donated to the founding of an educational institution named after him in Washington, D.C.



Oddly enough, he never visited the United States in his lifetime…..



And so, the beauty of being in the D.C area is that all of the Smithsonian Museum’s are free. Well—not exactly. They are actually a function of our tax dollars at work but they don’t charge an admission fee. Free for everyone, not just citizens of the United States. And the
Chantilly VirginiaChantilly VirginiaChantilly Virginia

National Aerospace Museum. Amazing display of all things that fly.
people come in droves to see these edifices and their contents.

So hang on to that thought for a second……One day we were in the café at the Natural History Museum and decided to grab a quick bite. At the table next to us were your typical older U.S. citizens who were most likely on a bus tour of our nation’s capital and were visiting the museum. We sat there and listened to them complain about the cost of the food in the café. We get it as they are probably on a fixed income but we wanted to say….Hey!! Look around you are in a world class museum for free. Ah we digress……

A typical Saturday would find us hopping on the metro and some 35 minutes later, we pop up on the Capital Mall, right near these wonderful museums. We visit a museum for a couple of hours and go back another weekend to finish the museum. These Smithsonian Museums are big and for us, for the most part we are unable to get through them in a single visit. Did you know that Washington D.C offers 17 Smithsonian Museums & Galleries? At this point we’ve
4th of July4th of July4th of July

Near Washington Monument. Camped out all afternoon to see this spectacular display...well worth it!
only been to about a third of them. Below is a list of most of the places we managed to get a look at during the five months we’ve been in the area.



· The National Portrait Museum and American Art Museum are two buildings connected and have an amazing collection of art and we were able to enjoy this setting for hours.

· The National Gallery of Art is filled with the grand old masters.

· Freer Gallery of Art

· Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

· National Air and Space Museum in D.C & in Chantilly

· National Museum of Natural History

· American History Museum

· National Geographic Museum (non-Smithsonian)

· Spy Museum (way cool for Cold War spy stuff)



Okay, that’s a brief word on museums. Lest we not forget the many monuments D.C. has to offer. Monuments help to make D.C. one of the great cities of the world and attractively imposing. Monuments to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln are impressive enough, but toss in the World War II Monument, the Korean War, the Vietnam War Wall and oh yeah, the White
PatrioticPatrioticPatriotic

Celebrating July 4th
House and you’ve got quite an eyeful of stuff to look at.



The Washington Monument just recently re-opened after the completion of repairs caused by an earthquake a few years back and affords great views of the city. Begun before the Civil War, it is quite the structure. The Jefferson Memorial is exquisitely lovely in the early spring when the cherry blossoms surround the tidal pool. The trees are over 100 years old and a gift from the Japanese government. Quite a nice gift at that! We have to admit that we got to see these lovely blossoms in 2010, when we stole down here in March for our anniversary. We chronicled this in a previous blog.



Our favorite is the Lincoln Memorial. More that once, we would climb the steps, take a seat and just look out over the Reflecting Pool towards the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. It is just a great view and we never tire of it. Not to mention that Abe is one cool guy.

As you can see from our photos we visited a few of the other major monuments.

While in town we had
Ariel view Ariel view Ariel view

Top of Washington Monument
visits from our good friends Chuck and Birdie. Chuck was the best man at our wedding. Our niece Lauren and Pete came for a visit. We've been lucky that Lauren visits us frequently ....she has visited us in many of our locations. We thought we mention that she recently became a mother....and now there is "Great Uncle Dave."

We would be remiss if we did not mention our most favorite denizen of the District, Andy. We have known him for quite a while and it was our great pleasure to be o

Our time in D.C. afforded us the chance to meet another Travel Blogger, which is always a treat. “Roosta” joined us for a nice meal in old Alexandria and we spend a pleasant meal doing what else? Talking travel! Each traveler we meet has a little different take on the experience and we enjoy the chance to swap stories. Safe travels………


Additional photos below
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The Hope DiamondThe Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond

A girl's best friend. Baby it is big.
Bond, Mr. BondBond, Mr. Bond
Bond, Mr. Bond

At the Spy Museum
Spy MuseumSpy Museum
Spy Museum

The car from Goldfinger
Hyatt House Hyatt House
Hyatt House

Where we lived in D.C. for 5 months.
The WallThe Wall
The Wall

My brother Kevin G. Thorne on panel 4W row 10.
Too many names Too many names
Too many names

Vietnam Memorial
Arlington Cemetery Arlington Cemetery
Arlington Cemetery

Changing of the guard
President Ronald ReaganPresident Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan

At the National Portrait Gallery
Our niece Lauren & husband PeteOur niece Lauren & husband Pete
Our niece Lauren & husband Pete

Love having them visit us.
EisenhowerEisenhower
Eisenhower

You've got to "like Ike."


17th September 2014

DC
Hey guys! I consider myself a "breezer" not a "browser" when it comes to museums. Loved the fairly new Aerospace museum in Chantilly! Seeing the space shuttle and knowing it's history gave me goose bumps! Glad you two are doing well. I am still on assignment in Raleigh, through Dec, then I have no definite plans. Except to retire within the next five years. 59 now.
17th September 2014

DC
Hey guys! I consider myself a "breezer" not a "browser" when it comes to museums. Loved the fairly new Aerospace museum in Chantilly! Seeing the space shuttle and knowing it's history gave me goose bumps! Glad you two are doing well. I am still on assignment in Raleigh, through Dec, then I have no definite plans. Except to retire within the next five years. 59 now.
17th September 2014

DC
Hey guys! I consider myself a "breezer" not a "browser" when it comes to museums. Loved the fairly new Aerospace museum in Chantilly! Seeing the space shuttle and knowing it's history gave me goose bumps! Glad you two are doing well. I am still on assignment in Raleigh, through Dec, then I have no definite plans. Except to retire within the next five years. 59 now.
17th September 2014

DC
I forgot that you were in Raleigh. I will send you an email. The museum in Chantilly is fantastic. Yeah for retirement!
17th September 2014

Museum styles
My style is similar to yours I think, I can definitely go into "information overload" quite quickly. These days I tend to decide in advance what I am most interested in and sometimes I have been known to skip entire sections if I am in overload, but it doesn't bother me if seen what I came for.
17th September 2014

Absolutely agree
We've been known to glance at a section or two and move on. I guess I'm ok with an overview of past civilizations since I have had a fairly solid education on what occurred most of the time. The artifacts can be amazing. Sounds like we could successfully visit a museum together.
17th September 2014

Museums
When we travel we visit museums, but when we are at home its often art galleries. Come to think of it we really like both. In Oz they often score exceptional visiting exhibitions like the Aztec one on in Sydney at the moment and the antiquities of Afghanistan on recently. We'll have to have a chat about it one day.
17th September 2014

Let's chat about museums
It would be great to get together and discuss the galleries in Sydney. We didn't make it to any of them in the past. Maybe on our next visit. I'd love to see the antiquities of Afghanistan!
17th September 2014

Self confessed non-attender
Well I know this will sound shocking.. but my museum style is that I don't go to them. Oops... it's out now... oh my god! Oh well, better I fess up and face the consequences. But I liked reading your blog and maybe there is hope for me yet.
17th September 2014

You've been outed!
Certainly there is no hope for you...ah just kidding. Well, we are not museum geeks but made a conscious decision to go while we are living in the area because we've lived her for a few weeks in the past and visited a couple of times and didn't step foot in one. It was well worth the time. If you come to D.C. you must break your rule.
17th September 2014

Smithsonian are great
Smithsonian Museums easily ranks among the best museums in the world. We have seen American History Museum and Air and Space Museum and we would love to see the rest of them some day in the future. A crazy idea would be to see them all in one go. To pull a Smithsonian all in. But that would not be fun. One museum or two is what a normal person can digest in one visit. /Ake
17th September 2014

So Much to Take In!
Hi Dave & Merry Jo! What great photos and sounds like you two were able to take in so much! I've never been to D.C. but it's one place I am considering in terms of relocation now that I've returned from my travels and am back to the real world trying to find a job. I'll keep you posted if I end up in your neck of the woods!
17th September 2014

So much to see and so much to do
You won't regret a trip to D.C. whether it is to visit or to live. Such a great city. Truly a melting pot. Please let us know when you are in the area.
17th September 2014

So much to see and so much to do
You won't regret a trip to D.C. whether it is to visit or to live. Such a great city. Truly a melting pot. Please let us know when you are in the area.
17th September 2014

Total museum geek!
I always plan a full day for every museum (unless it's the NY Met, the Louvre or the Hermitage, and then I devote a week). I visit chronologically, reading every caption and taking notes (it takes a long time in French or Spanish). When I finish, I go back to the beginning because you see things differently from a new direction. Then, I go through again, stopping to be with my favorites. I always visit even the small, sincere, very funky regional museums and chat with the workers who are thrilled someone is visiting. Museums are a real love of my life though, needless-to-say, they are a solitary enjoyment.
17th September 2014

I knew you were out there
I suspected there was someone like you out there and I'm not surprised to find out it is you. You seem like a patient person and could enjoy each tidbit and nugget of knowledge. I could never go to a museum with you. :)
18th September 2014

Thanks for the memories!
Hi, Thanks for reminding me how lovely DC is. I was lucky to be there in beautiful April with the cherry blossoms. I hope you'll visit Frederick Douglas' home. I really enjoyed that visit. Douglas came to Ireland during The Great Famine and was shocked to see the Irish people in rags, begging from him, far worse than he had ever seen in the Deep South.
18th September 2014

Great hearing from you Sheila
We will see if we have time for the Frederick Douglas Home. We are leaving the area soon so I'm not sure. Sounds great. We've been to D.C. in late March and the Cherry Blossoms are spectacular.
18th September 2014

DC
I've been to DC before but unfortunately it was in the heat of summer. I will go again, sometime when it is cooler if I can find a weekly or monthly rental at a good price and near a bus or train line going into DC. I greatly enjoyed my last visit even in the heat and fully intend to go again. Right now I am enjoying time at Colorado Springs and may make it my "home base" for a bit.
18th September 2014

Weeks and weeks
To really get a good look at D.C. it can take weeks. So much to do and so little time. I do hope you'll come back. I'm sure you can hunt out a reasonable place to stay.
18th September 2014

Museum viewing styles
MJ and Dave, it seems are our museum viewing styles are very compatible... we usually find ourselves in the cafe, on our third or fourth cup of coffee while waiting for friends who subscribe to Tara's style of museum viewing :)
18th September 2014

Museum compatibility
It used to bother me when I was reading faster and moving from room to room at a much more rapid rate than others. Now it does not bother me at all. I'll bet if we were quizzed at the exit we would do fairly well. I'm afraid I would not go to a museum with your friends or Tara. I'd get tired of drinking coffee. Guess I could catch up with them later in the day. I'm so glad the world has people who want to read every piece of information because they have worked so hard to gather it and present it well. Smithsonian's are amazing.
18th September 2014

Museum compatibility
It used to bother me when I was reading faster and moving from room to room at a much more rapid rate than others. Now it does not bother me at all. I'll bet if we were quizzed at the exit we would do fairly well. I'm afraid I would not go to a museum with your friends or Tara. I'd get tired of drinking coffee. Guess I could catch up with them later in the day. I'm so glad the world has people who want to read every piece of information because they have worked so hard to gather it and present it well. Smithsonian's are amazing.
21st September 2014

From Cortona
Love your museum visiting style.... pretty much matches our own. We arrived in Cortona yesterday for a week after barging the Canal du Midi in southern FrAnce. Great experience! There is so much we need to do and see in the DC area and your blogs will be our guide.... Another great one!!!
21st September 2014

Your life is rough
...France....Cortona...ah, that's the life. Glad you continue to have a great time. Eager to hear more. D.C. has so much to offer. I'm glad we had an extended time there. Now we are moving to Baltimore...details later.
21st September 2014
Ariel view

Washington Monument
Looks like you get a great view from the top of the Washington monument. Unfortunately it was still closed when I visited.
21st September 2014
Ariel view

Closed for repairs
It offers a stunning view. If you get back we recommend a trip to the top. It was lovely.

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