Friday, July 04, 2008

Washington, D.C. day 4

Happy July 4th! We're resting at the hotel right now before our next adventure, so I have a minute to fill you in on yesterday. We went to the Smithsonian Portrait Museum, which Mike said is his favorite museum that he's ever visited in his life. The museum has 3 floors and we only completed the 1st floor before feeling brain overload, as well as having exhausted legs and feet. The portrait museum is primarily portraits of course, though it has a few exhibits of American paintings, photography, sculpture, and even creative writing.

The portraits were the best part. We mostly hung around in the American Origins section, where we could see portraits of all the famous history makers, including some of the famous portraits you always see of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and the like. One of the things I really like about the Smithsonian is that these paintings are not under glass or behind a rope. You can walk right up and touch them if you wanted to (but don't!), which leads me to suspect that they are not the real thing, though I have no other evidence to believe this. I see paint flaking off and obvious artist touch-ups and other clues indicating that these are real. But it just seems so risky I don't see how no one's drawn a mustache on Ben Franklin by now. And the portraits are usually presented in their original antique frames, as well. It's just beautiful.

I found several portraits of my cousins Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Ok, I just looked it up in my genealogy software Legacy v. 7.0, and they are my 4th cousins 5 times removed. I think that means we are 5 generations apart, but I'm not sure what 4th cousins are. My 8th great-grandparents are the same as their 3rd great-grandparents. That's what it means. But anyway...

One of my favorite pieces was not a portrait. It was a collection of license plates that form the Preamble. It was great!

We were so tired we went to the hotel and ordered room service and watched Evan Almighty on TV. Movies that take place in D.C. are fun to watch when you've just walked around D.C. yourself.

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