Washington is a freebie lovers dream. Finished with the impressive national monuments, I’m heading up the National Mall, which is line on each side with Museum after Museum, interest after interest, regardless of your taste! A say that with an added note that the streets are also lined by sellers trucks, selling touristy tat and kebabs, ice cream, icy cold drinks – all that a slightly inflated price. There not pushy, it’s just there and a bit of a distraction. Sorry, I like Mr Whippy Ice cream too much.
On my left there are the National Museums of American History and Natural History. The National Gallery of Art (N.G.A.) Sculpture Garden and both East and West buildings. On the right we have the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Smithsonian Castle, Hirshhorn Museum and American Indian Museum. Now, I am sure that each of these are superbly interesting in their own right, but I have eyes for only one place and both Donny and Hazel have said it’s a doozy, my next stop is the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, with Planetarium. I’m well excited.
Now I took tons and tons of photo’s and spent a good few hours in the place and probably would have been in there longer if it did not close come 5.30pm. I did not mind too much, I was a bit puckered anyway and I wanted to get up to the hockey stadium to soak up some atmosphere before the Pens played, then get in a good bar to watch the game, have a beer and get some grub.
Where do I start? When you walk in the first thing that’s visible is Gemini IV and the Apollo Lunar Module. There’s two floors to the place, 12 different exhibitions on the first floor and a flight simulator and 13 on the second floor, an Imax Theatre and the Einstein Planetarium, which I missed when it closed. Aside from the exhibitions, they have a number of planes hanging from the roof. I love that shit.
How Things Fly, Early Flights, Golden Age of Flight and Jet Aviation were interesting and there were a number of interactive toys and tools you could play around with that helped tell a story. I did not pop into Explore The Universe and Looking at Earth rooms, thinking it would not top Chicago. Moving Beyond Earth had models of the International Space Station and a model of Colombia and the Space Race had models of the first aircrafts that went into space, how small they were and in some case had 2-3 people in them. Imagine having a single bed mattress as your home for 28 days, sharing a pod with 3 others. I know these guys were conditioned and trained, but wow!
The second floor is just as interesting and I spent ages in the Pioneers of Flight exhibition. It’s cause of these people, going as far back as 1783, that I am able to travel the world today. In fact there was a model of a typical Pan Am plane, the DC-7, where you can walk through its nose, how small and exclusive those early flights were. Great War in the air, World War II Aviation and Sea-Air Operations are intriguing and right up my galley, so to speak. They don’t just show planes like the North American Mustang, there is a Supermarine Spitfire MKII model, Macchi C202, Messerschmitt and Mitsubishi AGM Zero.
There’s a lot of information about the pilots, what medals were given by what nations and the type of flight suits they wore in every era. It was not all about the planes either, there was stuff about that Steve Fossett guy who went missing in the desert and his balloon flights. National Air Races back in the day and the awards they won. They even had a wind tunnel, even though I never went in – I’m no very aero dynamic.
Well worth the $0.00 entrance fee – doozy neighbour.
Part of the National Mall includes some ad hoc gardens and art, showcasing the talent of Washington artists. I have always struggled with Art, hence why I very rarely go to art galleries and the likes. It’s interesting tho, have a gander.
What I will say is this, how can something created by a lassie called Tracey in London, be worth more than my buddy Gordon fae Perth? They could design the same thing and hers would be worth tons more ££££. I have always thought that if you took a painting, put it up for sale and said it was by a local artist, yer lucky if it would get pennies. If you took the same painting, added to an ‘Estate’ collection, up for auction, it would get some candy!. Think about that.