Thursday, 31 October 2013 00:00

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum includes paintings, sculpture, photographs, folk art, and decorative arts from the colonial period to today—offer an unparalleled record of the American experience.

Highlights Lunder Conservation Center; Luce Foundation Center for American Art, a public study center with more than 3,300 artworks to explore; Kogod Courtyard with free, public Wi-Fi internet access

Published in Historical Attractions
Thursday, 31 October 2013 00:00

Smithsonian Institution Visitor Center

The Smithsonian Institution Visitor Center was the first Smithsonian building, designed by architect James Renwick, Jr., whose other works include St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, also in Washington D.C. James Renwick designed the Castle as the focal point of a picturesque landscape on the Mall, using elements from Georg Moller's Denkmäler der deutschen Baukunst.

The building is completed in the Gothic Revival style with Romanesque motifs. This style was chosen to evoke the Collegiate Gothic in England and the idea of knowledge and wisdom. The façade is built with red sandstone from the Seneca quarry in Seneca, Maryland in contrast to the granite, marble and yellow sandstone from the other major buildings in Washington, D.C.

The main Smithsonian visitor center is also located here, with interactive displays and maps. Computers electronically answer most common questions. A crypt just inside the north entrance houses the tomb of James Smithson.

Thursday, 31 October 2013 00:00

St. Matthew's Cathedral

The Saint Matthew Cathedral church and parish is named for Saint Matthew the Apostle, the patron saint of civil servants, recognizing all those who serve in the municipal, state, and national governments and the many international organizations located in the metropolitan area. The church is the seat or cathedra of the Archbishop of Washington.  As the Mother Church of the archdiocese, it plays a major role in the Catholic life of the nation’s capital.

The funeral Mass for President John F. Kennedy was celebrated in the Cathedral on November 25, 1963 with many international heads of state and governments in attendance. In 1979, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in the Cathedral during his visit to the United States. Annually, on the Sunday before the first Monday in October when the Supreme Court of the United States begins its regular term, a special Mass is celebrated praying for the Holy Spirit to guide all those who are members of the legal profession. Known as the "Red Mass" in reference to the vestment color, the Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, the President's Cabinet, diplomatic corps, local municipal, state and national government leaders, and sometimes the President of the United States join the celebration.

Located just off the intersection of Connecticut Avenue, Rhode Island Avenue, and M Street in Northwest Washington and about four blocks from the White House.

Published in Attractions
Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00

The National Civil War Life Museum

The National Civil War Life Museum is a step back in time to the days of the Civil War. With more than 2,000 exhibits on display, anyone visiting the museum will feel what it was really like to have not only fought in the war, but to have lived during the time of the war.

Thursday, 31 October 2013 00:00

Theodore Roosevelt Island

In the 1930s landscape architects transformed Mason’s Island from neglected, overgrown farmland into Theodore Roosevelt Island, a memorial to America’s 26th president. They conceived a “real forest” designed to mimic the natural forest that once covered the island. Today miles of trails through wooded uplands and swampy bottomlands honor the legacy of a great outdoorsman and conservationist

Published in Historical Attractions
Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, is also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and has never been officially named. The Tomb of the Unknowns stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater.

The white marble sarcophagus has a flat-faced form and is relieved at the corners and along the sides by neo-classic pilasters, or columns, set into the surface. Sculpted into the east panel which faces Washington, D.C., are three Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. The six wreaths, three sculpted on each side, represent the six major campaigns of World War I. Inscribed on the back of the Tomb are the words:

Published in Historical Attractions
Thursday, 31 October 2013 00:00

Tudor Place House & Garden

Tudor Place is a Federal-style mansion in Washington, D.C. that was originally the home of Thomas Peter and his wife, Martha Parke Custis Peter, a granddaughter of Martha Washington. Step-grandfather George Washington left her the $8,000 in his will that was used to purchase the property in 1805. The property, comprising one city block on the crest of Georgetown Heights, had an excellent view of the Potomac River.

Published in Historical Attractions
Thursday, 31 October 2013 00:00

U.S. Department of the Interior Museum

The U.S. Department of the Interior Museum educates the public and DOI employees about the current missions and programs of the Department of the Interior, the history of the Department, and the art and architecture of its headquarters building in Washington, DC.

The Interior Museum acquires objects appropriate for promoting understanding of the Department's activities. The Museum holds these objects in trust and provides access to them for use in supporting the missions of the Department through the documentation, preservation, and management of our collections in ways that enhance their long-term availability for these purposes.

The U.S. Department of the Interior Museum was created by Interior Secretary Harold Ickes to help the American taxpayer understand the work of the Department. In 1935, Ickes appointed Carl Russell from the National Park Service museum division to head the museum committee charged with developing and designing the exhibits. Russell immediately gathered a staff of curators, model makers, artists, sculptors, and others to begin work on the Museum.

The construction of the Main Interior Building provided an opportunity for the new Museum and it was given one floor of an entire wing. The space was not originally intended to be a museum gallery, a challenge for the museum committee, which had to work around a long narrow wing with low ceilings and several load bearing columns.

A curator was assigned to each of the Department’s bureaus. Together these teams developed the exhibits featuring objects, photographs, maps, watercolor illustrations, and interpretative panels. Silhouettes cut from zinc to illustrate the work and mission of the Department were installed in some of the lighting coves above the exhibits.

The museum opened on March 8, 1938 and featured 1,000 objects in 95 exhibits. Secretary Ickes held a formal invitation-only party to open the museum on that day, the party also commemorated the 89th anniversary of the first day in office for the Department’s first secretary, Thomas Ewing. The Museum opened to the public the next day and was an immediate success with 3,000 to 4,000 people visiting the museum monthly.

 

Thursday, 31 October 2013 00:00

U.S. Navy Memorial

The United States Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 7th Street Northwest and 9th Street Northwest in Washington, D.C., honors those who have served or are currently serving in the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marine.

The National Park Service, through its National Mall and Memorial Parks administrative unit, provides technical and maintenance assistance to the foundation. The memorial is adjacent to the Archives station and the National Archives building.

Associated with the Memorial is the Naval Heritage Center. The Heritage Center is open 362 days a year, closing only on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.

Published in Historical Attractions
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 00:00

Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

The bronze and marble Ulysses S. Grant Memorial by Henry Merwin Shrady is located by the reflecting pool at the east end of the National Mall, west of the United States Capitol. Its central figure depicts the Civil War general (and future president) seated and still on horseback, as was his custom while observing a battle; bronze reliefs on the marble pedestal show infantry soldiers on the march. Four bronze lions around the pedestal impart a sense of strength and dignity. At the ends of the monument, groups of soldiers and horses appear in tumultuous action, with cavalry at the north and artillery at the south. Measuring 44 feet high and occupying a marble platform over 250 feet long and 70 feet deep, the monument is the largest statuary group in Washington, D.C.; the sculpture of Grant is among the largest equestrian statues in the world. The Congress authorized the creation of the memorial in 1901. Twenty-three sculptors competed for the commission, which was awarded to the relatively unknown Henry Merwin Shrady (1871–1922). A former law student and businessman, Shrady had taught himself to sketch and sculpt, initially by studying animals at the Bronx Zoo. To ensure the accuracy of the Grant Memorial, he studied Civil War history, equipment, and uniforms; joined the New York National Guard; and consulted many war veterans and others who had known the general—including his own father, who had been one of Grant’s physicians. The memorial was completed in 1920; sadly, the sculptor died 15 days before its dedication in 1922. Shrady’s partner in the project was New York architect Edward Pearce Casey (1864–1940), who is also represented in Washington, D.C., by the Taft Memorial Bridge, DAR Constitution Hall, and the completion of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building.

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