Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things from the Smithsonian and stuff

We went through nearly every exhibit in the American History Museum. Here are some highlights and pics.

I think my feet are the same size as Judy Garland's cause the ruby slippers would totally fit me. They wouldn't take them out of the case for me to try them on though. Sunsabitches.

I would also like to wear Grace Coolidge's flapper gown. Grace was apparently a cool lady and very fashinable. I for one would love to see Michelle Obama wear something like this to a State Dinner. That would rock!

I admit being fascinated with historical clothing. But you have to admit this is really cool. They have George Washington's dress suit. That is cool in and of itself, but when it is encased next to this painting:

In which he is wearing it. That is cool. He was painted wearing this suit more than once. Apparently he trotted it out for formal ceremonies and such when he was General.

Lest you think I was only there for the clothes, I took a picture of one of the most moving things I saw in DC. They had an exhibit showing things that people have left at the Vietnam Wall. I read the notes and letters, looked at the gifts and token and openly wept. Tried not to, but couldn't help it. So many young lives lost and so many people left behind to grieve for them. The card next to the can of Colt 45 says "Hey Bro, here's the beer I owe you 24 years late. You were right, I did make it back to the world. Great seeing you again. Sorry not to be with you, but I'll be along soon. Thanx, Sarge

The big deal at the American History Museum this weekend though was a special exhibit showcasing Abraham Lincoln's life and death in honor of his 200th birthday. They have his top hat. It was his favorite hat. It has the mourning band - a black silk ribbon - that he put on it the hat when his son died and he never took it off. And it was the hat he wore to Ford's Theatre. They have this hat in the Smithsonian as well as the cuff of a lady who cradled his head when he was shot. There were spots of blood on her cuff and she preserved it. Kinda chilling to see, made it feel very real and not just a legend.

Ford's Theatre has reopened recently after having undergone major renovations. The original interior of the theatre collapsed in 1893 while it was being used as an office building. They call the interior of the theatre a replica. It is perfectly restored to the way it looked when Lincoln uttered his final guffaw at a laugh line that isn't funny anymore. We got to go in and they miraculously allow photos. This is the box where Abe and Mary sat with their friends.

This is from the audience looking at the stage. The American flag you see in the corner is the flag hanging from the presidential box. You can see that the box sits right over the stage so it really wasn't too hard for John Wilkes Booth to jump from it onto the stage after shooting Lincoln. All of this is discussed so factually, so forensically. It is easy to forget these were real people and history is not a story.

But being there, sitting in the theatre, then traveling across the street to the tiny boarding house where he died really changed that for me. I am glad I was able to tour these sites.

I love the history of DC and the Smithsonian. But I also really enjoyed seeing the Hope Diamond.

And the jewels Napoleon gave Josephine.

And I have requested this little bauble for my birthday.

David and I had a really good time in DC. But we certainly wear ourselves out. We don't relax on vacation. We keep going attempting to see as much as we can. We aren't the sit on the beach kind. We are the rub each others feet after abusing them for three days kind. Some day maybe we should go on a cruse and sit around and read and chill. But there are so many museums out there to see and cities to visit.
This is our self-portrait the third morning we were in DC. I though it captured our contented exhaustion pretty well.

I'm done for tonight, but I still have to write about our visits to the Kennedy Center and Arlington National Cemetery. So more to come when I get back to it...


Julie H. said...

I'm loving these trip reports! Makes me want to go to DC again!!

Ronni said...

Thank you so much for posting pictures from the Museum of American History. It was closed when we were there last summer, and I was devastated! I actually spent most of my time there walking around sulking. It's really a wonder I saw anything!