Sunday, October 26, 2014

Postcards From Washington D.C. - Union Station/Archives/Sculpture Garden

Exterior walkway of the Union Station
After our very full morning at the Postal Museum, (see yesterday's blog entry), we needed a lunch and we needed it fast.  What with driving to the metro station, parking, walking to the metro, riding the metro, walking to the Postal Museum, and spending three or so hours in the Museum, we were downright hungry by now.

A short walk nearby to Union Station was an easy dining solution.  This is a massive building, an impressive work of architecture, housing the Amtrak train station, and three floors of shopping and dining options.  It reminded me of an airport, but all the folks there dragging around their suitcases were rail passengers.  The hubby was in dining options overload.  I purchased my lunch selection, got seated, and ate half my lunch before he could even decide what he wanted.

Everything we did on this day - the Postal Museum, lunch at Union Station, the Archives of the United States, and a walk through the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden - was all within comfortable walking distance of one metro station.  (And that statement comes from someone who had achilles surgery just one year ago!)

National Archives Museum
After lunch we walked a long block and a half to visit the Archives of the United States of America.  I had one goal in mind - to see those three important documents housed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.  This is a semicircular heavily guarded room designed specifically for the permanent public display of the Charters of Freedom - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.  A whole lotta amazing history right there in that one room.  Note: photos were strictly forbidden, so these next several photos of what we saw are from the internet.

The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom
Even though I knew these documents were historic, because I was so lackluster in history class as a youngster, I had to refresh my memory about these three important papers.

The Declaration of Independence, 1776, announced the separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain and the establishment of the United States of America.  The Declaration articulates the highest ideals of the Revolution - liberty, equality, and the right to self-determination.  We were able to actually read some of the sentences, and could just about still see some of the original signatures.

The United States Constitution, 1787, codified the spirit of the American Revolution in an ingenious, practical scheme of government to promote the welfare of all its citizens.  Considered one of the most influential legal documents of all time, it has served as a model for over 100 countries.  It. Was. Sitting. Right. There. In. Front. Of. Us.  Wow.

The Magna Carta
The Bill of Rights, 1789, spelled out the rights of individual citizens.  The First Congress of the United States proposed 12 constitutional amendments.  Of those, 10 were ratified and are known as the Bill of Rights.  It almost took my breath away looking at these documents.

After seeing those three famous papers, I almost lost interest in seeing the rest of the things in that museum, but we did nose around a bit and explored all sorts of other historic papers, records, letters, and audio and video tapes in the collections there.

One such document, the Magna Carta, was on display in the "Records of Rights" gallery.  The 1297 Magna Carta - one of only a few remaining copies - was on display courtesy of David M. Rubenstein.  This important document inspired the Founding Fathers to assert their freedom.

We had seen enough to keep us thinking about those major historical events in our country, and we needed a cup of coffee and a bit of a rest.

Across the street from the Archives is located the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art, and within the garden is the Pavillion Cafe, where we found the coffee we needed.

I found a table and seats out on the patio of the cafe and amused myself watching the antics of this albino squirrel while Bob fetched our coffees.  We have grey, red, and black squirrels in our area, but never before have I seen a white one.  Yes, he had pink eyes, too.

After a bit, we took a leisurely stroll through the garden before returning back to our campsite via metro.  I'm not usually a fan of modern art, but we did get a kick out of some of the pieces in this park.

Here's a small sampling of what we saw.

Anybody remember these typewriter erasers?

The World's Largest Spider?

A shiny metallic tree:

Probably the most bizarre offering was the last one we passed.  I don't remember for sure, but its title was simply "Women" or "Headless Women."  Looking at the display first then reading its title on the label, I felt somewhat disgusted and angry.  My interpretation is that the artist doesn't think very much of women, somehow.  I'd really like to know what the artist was thinking, and if somebody has a different impression than mine.

Notice there are two other sculptures visible behind these "women."  

Next:  National Building Museum

1 comment:

  1. The Sculpture Garden is always fun to see. Gotta love those old typewriter erasers! lol