September 11, 2008.
We’ve started our assault on the museums again. Last year when we were here we really put a good dent in the list of places too see, but it’s still a pretty long list.
Today we hit the National Gallery of Art, both West and East buildings. We had been to the West building several times last year so it only took us 2 hours to see what we had missed. After lunch we headed over to the East building which houses their “modern art”. If you were a reader back on September 21, 2007 then you have a grasp for my lack of appreciation of modern art.
We had been to the exhibit at the Hirschorn and I found it to be a painful experience. I figured different museum, different experience. Wrong. Once again we were subjected to room after room of ridiculous crap. I noticed a disturbing coincidence. Most of the worst pieces were “created in 1951 through 1953. So if you were old enough to do any drawing back then you probably sucked at it. If you’re still at it, don’t show anyone else and certainly don’t go around hanging that crap on the wall.
You’re not supposed to photograph the “art” so as not to risk damaging it. I ran into an artist who evidently was trying to emulate Morris, the guy who was my least favorite artist from last year. So I waited for the guard to look away and I snapped a quick picture without any flash to try and convey to you what passes for modern art. This guy had a whole room of basically blank canvases, WTH?
After the modern art debacle we headed down the block to the National Museum of the American Indian. Being an average, narrow minded American I figured we’d be seeing some Apache, Sioux, Lenni Lenape type stuff. Wrong again, Tonto.
By American Indians they were talking both North and South America. That’s right, all the Indians. Eskimos, Incas, Mayans, everybody except Cleveland.
The building was beautifully landscaped outside. When we first walked in it was a little anticlimactic.
Kind of a dull foyer with a few native canoes, a gift shop and café. So, undaunted we headed up to the second floor and again were disappointed to find most of the floor dominated by yet another gift shop. So still hopeful we hopped in an elevator and headed for the fourth floor. Eureka, the promised land, we spent 2 hours on the fourth floor alone. There were small alcoves that lead from one to another, each one representing a different tribe. They were really nicely done and very informative displays.
The display of gold artifacts made by the Aztecs was impressive. The sad thing was that almost all the gold Aztec artifacts are in museums. The sad part is that there are so few artifacts because the conquering Spanish melted down into ingots most of what they looted before sailing back to Spain. So there are comparatively very few examples of their workmanship. An interesting tidbit that I learned was that gold was so common that until the white man showed up it was only used for decorative purposes, never as currency.
By the time Christy and I got down to the third floor we were pretty much spent from our long day. After a cursory look around we headed home to the boat for dinner and then a well deserved rest.