I went to DC for work during the first week of May. I used to visit DC often and the last time I visited the area was in 2006 for only 2 days. I didn't get a chance to really "see" DC on that short trip, so I was happy that I had a free day on this trip to explore. I've visited major sites on my previous trips like the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, the Kennedy Center, etc. Being a museum junkie, I thought this time I'd visit the National Gallery and the Smithsonian. Needless to say, I was in art heaven! :)
The weather was crappy when I arrived...typical crazy spring East Coast weather. It was rainy and muggy.
The museums in DC have free admission, just like the National Gallery in London. You can't beat that! Here's the entrance to the National Gallery.
A view of the Capitol from the entrance of the National Gallery.
The central lobby inside the National Gallery. The lobby resembles the Pantheon in Rome, minus the fountain in the middle.
See the ceiling/skylight? This is totally like the Oculus inside the Pantheon.
This is the photo I took of the Oculus inside the Pantheon in Rome in July 2008. See the similarity? :)
Another shot of the central lobby.
I wanted to visit the Lincoln Memorial again on this trip but didn't have time. Luckily, they have a replica inside the museum.
Beautiful waterfall by the food court.
The museum is divided into the East Wing and the West Wing. There's a really cool walkway connecting the two wings. It's like a light tunnel!
I'm in a time warp! :D
Looking at the West Wing from the East Wing.
The time warp-like walk way is totally appropriate, since the East Wing houses contemporary and modern arts vs. classical and ancient arts in the West Wing. Here are some of the contemporary pieces at the East Wing.
Picasso, later years. I visited the Picasso Museum in Barcelona in 2006 and learned how Picasso transformed his painting methods to express emotions as he evolved.
Another famous Matisse piece.
Picasso, early years. He started out just like everyone else...painting objects as they are. I didn't learn to appreciate his unusual style in his later years until I visited the Picasso Museum and saw how he transformed over the years.
The inside of the East Wing. The East Wing was designed by Chinese architect I.M. Pei, who also designed the pyramid in front of the Louvre in Paris.
After visiting the East Wing to see Picasso and Matisse, I ventured back to the West Wing. Here's a piece by Claude Monet, my favorite impressionist. If I remember correctly, this piece used to be at the Getty Center here in LA, but they moved it to the National Gallery. I was very happy to see it again.
Monet again. I saw a variation of this famous Japanese Garden/Lilly Pound painting at the d'Orsay museum in Paris in 2001.
Gauguin with his famous Polynesian subjects.
I visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam in July 2008 as well, and I was hoping to see this portrait. This portrait wasn't at the Van Gogh Museum but I made it up here. It put a big smile on my face when I saw it. :)
Another Monet piece. I have a poster of this woman with parasol at my place.
A rich and vibrant piece by Degas. I liked this one more than the famous ballet dancers piece (saw it as well) for some reason.
I walked downstairs to see the sculptures. Lo and behold, there's a room dedicated to the French painter/sculptor, Auguste Rodin. I visited the Rodin museums in Paris (2001) and Philadelphia (2006), but only the Paris museum has my favorite sculpture, "The Kiss." I haven't seen the replica anywhere else. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a small bronze statue of "The Kiss" here in DC!
Here's the original marble statue I saw at the Rodin Museum in Paris in 2001. The original is over 6 feet tall.
Of course, you can't have a Rodin collection without his most famous piece, "The Thinker." I've seen this piece at the Rodin Museum in Paris, Philadelphia, and The Met in NYC...now here. I wonder how many more of these are floating around the world.
Here's a fun piece from 200-300 years ago. Pay attention to the handle of the violin on the table. See how it's pointing at you when you stand in front of it?
Now look at this painting from the side, notice that the violin handle is STILL pointing at you but not anything else in the painting?
Go to the other side, and the violin handle follows you! It's amazing how artists from hundreds of years ago figured out optical illusion.
This is what the Pantheon looked like 200 years ago...it still looks the same today.
They have people studying throughout the Gallery.
A portrait of Rembrandt by one of this students. Look at that fancy earring he's wearing.
Another fun piece. This one is by Goya. Pay attention to the little dog in this painting. The dog is looking at you.
Now step to the side, and the little doggy is STILL looking at you.
Go to the other side, and the doggy just wouldn't leave you alone! :D
The covering above the Pope in this painting looked totally 3D. It looked like it was sticking out of the painting when I stared at it. Now I know how they paint the ceilings at the Vatican Museum. They look 3D but are actually flat.
Here's the ceiling of the Map Room inside the Vatican Museum that I took in 2004. It's flat, not 3D!
After visiting the National Gallery, I went to its sculpture garden adjacent to it.
I saw the National Archives across the street. I didn't have time to visit so I'll have to make it there the next time I'm in DC.
Here's a sculpture by Joan Miro.
I forgot who made this, but it's a fun one. It's 2D but looks 3D. :)
After visiting the National Gallery, I walked across the Mall toward the Smithsonian. Here's yours truly.
"The Castle" aka the visitor center of the Smithsonian Institution.
I only had 30 minutes at the SI, so I ran inside the Asian Arts Museum by the visitor center. One more reason I need to go back to DC in the future!
Once inside the Asian Arts Museum, I was surprised to find artifacts from the second Chinese Dynasty, the Shang Dynasty!
This food container was from 15th - 14th Century B.C.! It's about 3500 years old! All I could say was "WOW!!!" I only saw stuff this old in Taiwan's museum when I was little.
Look at the Chinese character for this food container called "Ding." Chinese is a beautiful language because its characters are evolved from nature and shape. If you study the character of "Ding" shown in the picture here, you'd see how it resembles the shape of the container in the picture above.
Moving on to the Western Zhou and Eastern Zhou Dynasties...
This is from the Tang Dynasty, the most prosperous dynasty in Chinese history. The Chinese culture influenced heavily in Japan and Korea during this period of time. The Japanese tea ceremony and the traditional Korean dresses are great representations of the Chinese influence preserved from this dynasty.
A sculpture from the Tang Dynasty.
This beautiful vase is from the last Chinese Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty.
After indulging myself in arts and history, it's time for me to move on to the hotel where our conference was being held. I passed by the WWII Memorial overlooking the Lincoln Memorial on a cab ride to the hotel.
We stayed at the Gaylord National Resort in Maryland. This is a big convention hotel like the Gaylord in Orlando which I also stayed at years ago. This is the view of my room from the balcony looking at the Potomac River.
The Atrium has a mini water show in the evening like the Bellagio in Vegas.
I was grabbing some lunch with my colleagues the next day, when I saw an arm sticking out from the harbor. I walked up to it and saw this giant man stuck in the sand. It's Poseidon!
The weather finally started to clear up couple days later. This is a view of the sunset from the 18th floor of the hotel.
This was a long and tiring trip because of the tight work schedule and the crappy travel times, but seeing all these arts and going back in history made it all worthwhile!