Washington DC – May 2019 – People of the World at the Embassy Open House Day

Once a year many of the embassies located in Washington have an open house, officially known as The Around the World Embassy Tour.




This was the event we went to Washington for, and it didn’t disappoint. On this busy Saturday the embassies were open from 10-4. We had selected 14 from over 50 that were open. In the end we visited 17, but only 6 that were on our original list – regardless it was a great time.

Easily the best part was meeting the people from around the world. Each embassy had a variety of people – artists, musicians, delegates, and just regular folks from their home country. In the Peru embassy we met the artist Mario Arcevedo Torero.





Our morning continued down the street at the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, A recurring theme soon began that the smaller countries had the most lively groups.





At the Iraqi embassy we met this artist and his traditional (yet electrified) guitar.





India’s was so popular they took over the nearby street and had a concert, with the traditional dancers, as well as a drum circle.











The visit to Albania was great as well – really tasty free food, traditionally costumed people, and a free shot of alcohol at the end!





There were numerous people in their traditional dress.






Despite tasting our way through 7 countries we had lunch in Costa Rica. As with the others it was nice to taste the local foods.

While many had small tastes of food and drink, some had food lines set up for a nominal fee – it was well worth it.





The Dominican Republic was a lively place as well.





In addition to the dancers there were a number of craftsmen, including this chain saw artist who makes amazingly small items using a chain saw (and seemingly still has all his fingers).




The Korean Cultural Center featured dancers as well.




The second act we saw was a drum line. It is interesting that the cultures from around the world tend to use similar items for their entertainment – dance and drums.




The Haitian embassy featured an artist doing paintings on site.





Meanwhile over at Cote d’Ivoire the greeters wore traditional headdresses.





They also had a display of costumes.



This artist was proudly displaying her work – it was beautiful.





Ah Belize…. What a party….




Before you even entered the grounds you couldn’t help but feel the energy of the party.





People were dancing in front – people were dancing in back.




People from very different cultures were jamming out to the Belize party. Ironically they were next door to the Muslim Center, which we visited in what I would expect should be quiet respect, but you could still hear the party next door – hopefully they get along ok.




We went through a very quiet and strangely austere Brazilian embassy, then headed on up the street to see these two colorful ladies….





Coming from Bolivia! They had a number of dancers performing their traditional dances.





And posed for a group photo at the end of their act.




This older guy was very active in his dance.




And with that we ended our amazing day at the Embassy Open House. This is one you need to put on your list!

Washington DC – May 2019 – Union Station

Washington Union Station is an architectural masterpiece that was designed by Daniel Burnham. It was opened in 1907, as a result of a decree from Theodore Roosevelt to provide a rail station worthy of the nation’s capital.





As you arrive you are greeted by Columbus Circle, along with a statue designed by Lorado Taft in 1912. This fountain symbolizes the 1492 expedition to the New World. The 3 flags represent the 3 ships, the figures on each side represent the new world and the old world.




The large bell is a scale replica of the Liberty Bell, and was cast by the same foundry in, ironically, Great Britain. This bell however was completed in 1976.





The colonnade is a signature Burnham design.




As you look down Delaware Avenue you get a sense of how close you are to the Capitol Building.




The Main Waiting Room, a misnomer now, is one of the largest rooms in the country, with 96′ high ceilings in a room that is 760′ along the entire corridor.

There are 36 Roman Centurions standing guard around the hall.





The entrance to the East Hall has a line of these Centurions as well as a great clock.





A close up of the clock shows the ‘4’ in Roman numerals is not IV, rather it is shown as IIII.





The East Hall was originally a dining room, with a Pompeii look.





A close up of some of the East Hall artwork.





The food court was once the train shed.





This view shows how it was outside the original Main Hall.

Washington’s Union Station is truly one of the great train stations in the country – well worth a stop, even if you drove of flew to the city.







Washington DC – May 2019 – Going Postal

The National Postal Museum was established through a joint agreement between the U.S. Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution in 1993.

Located in the former main post office for Washington, it has a great collection of philatelic items.




In the mid 1800s the United States Postal Service was just starting up, and they had competition from private postal services – in a way they have come full circle losing much of the market to Fedex and UPS.




The museum had a nice collection of the various improvements in delivery, as well as a couple of the more unusual. This mailbox was stuck inside a cruise missle and fired on June 8th, 1959. It did reach it’s target, but was done only once because of the immense cost.




The museum has an amazing collection of stamps and letters. The one below is one of the earliest known U.S. Postal stamps from 1847.




A couple of survivors. This letter survived the Hindenburg fire and crash.




This is one of the few letters sent from the Titanic. The writer, George Graham of Canada wrote this brief letter and mailed it before reaching Cherbourg, the last stop before going trans-atlantic. The letter reached it’s destination – unfortunately George did not, dying in the accident.




An actual Pony Express delivered letter. Despite all of the publicity over the last 150 years, the Pony Express operated for about a year and a half.




There are a number of other small items including letter carrier badges from around the country.




One section detailed what goes into the design of a stamp.




The Postal Service has always celebrated famous Americans, including musicians.





Throughout the museum were various mailbox displays.




A number of the displays highlighted foreign mailboxes.







The 6 story atrium featured a number of aircraft that were used in the early days of air mail.







Also on display is a full size mail rail car. Imagine sorting the mail bumping along at 60 MPH.




Benjamin Franklin was, among other things, the First Postmaster General. He was well qualified as he was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia by the British Crown Post in 1737, as newspaper publishers often were appointed postmasters.

The Postal Museum is a great place to spend a few hours – well worth the time. And as most Smithsonian Museums, it has free admission.







Washington DC, – May 2019 – Queens of Egypt Exhibition

The National Geographic Museum is located on 17th Street Northwest in Washington. The National Geographic Society was founded in Washington in 1888 by explorers and scientists, and continue to this day their effort to educate the public.



The organization’s headquarters greets you with their famed seal embossed in the floor.



In the first floor of one of the buildings is a small exhibit featuring, among other things, many of their famed magazine covers.



As well as some artifacts such as Adminral Peary’s camera he used on his Arctic explorations.



The main exhibition hall is located in a second building across the courtyard. The current feature is ‘Queens of Egypt’.



This display features seven of the famed queens including Nefertari.




Numerous small artifacts are on display.



Many have beautiful details and vivid colors.



A section called ‘The Listicle of Major Goddesses’ had much larger statues and artifacts.








The final section dealt with Death and Mummies including this funerary stela for Amun in Thebes.




A display highlighted the 6 stages of mummification including embalming, washing and waxing, extracting of the brain through the nostrils, extraction of internal organs – which were then scented and placed in canopic jars, drying, and finally the placement of the mask of pure gold over the face.



The mummy could now rest in peace for eternity.







Washington, DC – May 2019 – National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral is the second largest church in the country, and serves as the church for many state funerals, among other activities.




Because of Washington’s unique building height restrictions it is the 4th tallest building in the city, despite only being 300′ high.




The day we visited they were having the annual Flower Mart. As part of this event there were a number of group performing, including the choir from the nearby St Alban’s School.




The main section rises to the aforementioned 300′, with a length of nearly 500′ making it an impressive space.




State flags line the cathedral. Despite the name it receives no money from the government.




There is a significant amount of carvings throughout.




The organ was built by Ernest Skinner & Son Organ Company. It was completed and installed in 1938, with over 10,000 pipes.




A closeup of some of the carvings.




The church suffered significant damage in a 2011 earthquake, and they have been raising money ever since to complete repairs. By selling Lego bricks at $2 each, they hope to raise the final $19 million to finish the repairs. The bricks are to build an exact replica of the cathedral.




A statue of George Washington was sculpted in 1947 and placed in the church. It is said to represent Washington not as a soldier, or president, but ‘just a man’.




As noted previously the Flower Mart was occurring on this day. As part of this celebration the country of Ecuador flew in fresh roses and was giving each lady a rose, presented by a representative of the embassy.




Many countries had floral displays, none more unusual that Switzerland’s rose cow.




Many lined the nave, with the stained glass windows providing backdrops.





The arrangements were very well done.




The Washington Cathedral is a stunning building, and the Flower Mart display added to the experience.







Washington, DC – May 2019 – U.S. National Arboretum

The United States National Arboretum is located a couple of miles away from the Capitol building in the northeastern section of the District of Columbia.

It is located on 446 acres of land, with numerous focus areas throughout.

One of the highlights however has nothing to do with trees, plants or flowers. It is instead the National Capitol Columns.

In 1958 an addition was made to the Capitol building, and the columns, which had been installed in 1828, were no longer required. For decades they sat unused, until in the 1980s they were relocated here.




The caps were retained as well, and show the great detail.




They surround the stone foundation, complete with a pool.





We moved on to the Herb Garden – which has a view of the columns in the distance.





The herb garden is well landscaped.




Numerous workers were hard at it, keeping the place looking good.




The previous evenings thunderstorm gave the entire area a fresh look.





The herb garden had numerous sections focusing on various uses including a section on dyes, such as these flowers.





The nearby visitor center had a mid century modern vibe to the design.





The azalea section lead up a hill, to a supposed view of the Capitol building





No view was found, but plenty of colorful bushes.





The Dogwood section was next…








The sunny morning highlighted the flowers and leaves.





The gardens were a perfect place for romance.





Our last stop for the morning was in the Asian Gardens.




These tall thin sculptures are made out of bamboo.





The Garden make a great stop away from the touristy areas of the city.

Washington DC – June 2018 – Museum of American History

Our final stop was the Museum of American History, also known as America’s attic. There is so much to see starting with – Children’s TV icons…

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A shirtless George Washington?

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A tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

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Early computers.

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Early money.

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Commercial advertising standards.

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Batman’s ride.

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A collection of model ships.

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Washington DC streetcar.

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In the transportation hall they had a couple of displays of life in the 1950s.

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And a feature of the growth of the suburbs.

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Julia Child’s kitchen.

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And her awards.

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Early telegraph.

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The random eagle.

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A section about Latino’s in America included this cool Statue of Liberty only featuring a Latino woman holding tomatoes.

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There was a section about democracy in America, including a stunning presentation on voting in America, and how often people have tried to control who can vote so they can stay in power – it sadly continues to this day.

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Presidential election tchotchkes.

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A 1940s voting machine.

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A collection of protest signs.

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Another room housed mechanical items – an early sweeper.

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Finally in the presidential section was a collection of street signs named after presidents. The Museum of American History is a sensory overload – in my opinion it is second to Air & Space for museums in DC.

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