Museum hopping in Washington, D.C.
Face it, summer's over. No more whimsical beach trips or warm days in the sun. But fear not – the fall season holds new adventures. Now that the hordes of pesky tourists have left Washington, D.C., the city's museums are fair game for locals making fall the perfect opportunity for a whimsical day trip to local exhibitions. To celebrate, Silver Chips has compiled this handy guide to the must-see exhibits of D.C. – because the best time to go museum hopping is after the tourists have left town.
"The Green House"
Most museum exhibits are historical or artistic, but the "The Green House" has a higher purpose: to save the world. This innovative exhibition inside the National Building Museum is a life-size model of a "green" house that preserves natural resources. Unlike other exhibits, "The Green House" is interactive and allows visitors to wander throughout the house. Even the bathroom is "green" – the lights turn on when you walk in the door and the toilet is an energy preserving, low-flush model. With glowing wood floors and an airy glass-walled enclosure, the "Green House" offers a fascinating and beautiful glimpse into the future. Exhibit ends June 3, 2007. The National Building Museum is located at 401 F Street NW. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m-.5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free. The closest Metro stop is Judiciary Square.
"Soccer: Planet at Play"
In honor of the world's most popular sport, the National Geographic Society is featuring "Soccer: Planet at Play." The exhibit, a maze of walls painted green and covered with AstroTurf, is colored only by vivid photographs of the sport around the world. One of the exhibit's standout shots depicts a crowd inside Marcana Stadium in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, celebrating with smoke bombs and streamers. The hazy, surreal picture is just one of the exhibit's many arresting portraits. The grassy maze ends at a fun model stadium, complete with bleachers, where you can sit and watch professional soccer games on a flat screen television. Exhibit ends October 29, 2006. The National Geographic Society is located at 1145 17th Street NW. Open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission is free. The closest metro stop is Farragut North.
Modern and contemporary art come in many different forms and the Corcoran's exhibit, "Redefined," seems to capture every single one of them. The exhibit, consisting of pieces from the museum's modern and contemporary art collection, includes everything from old photographs to neon store-front signs. One of the exhibition rooms is called the Graffiti Circa, featuring graffiti art of the 1980's. Located inside is a dirty wooden slate tagged by the infamous Cool Disco Dan. The tag itself is suspected to have come from H Street in NW. With an extensive variety of pieces collected since the 1950's, the exhibit as a whole demonstrates the changes in American art as it seeks to redefine modern and contemporary. Exhibit ends early in January of 2007. The Corcoran Gallery is located at 500 17th Street NW. Open Wednesday- Sunday10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Thursday10 a.m.-9 p.m. Students pay $4 with a school ID. The closest metro stop is Farragut North.
"Jungles in Paris"
Staring into the exotic landscapes covering Henri Rousseau's paintings, it's difficult to imagine someone creating such vivid pictures without ever leaving France. These abstract paintings featured in the National Gallery of Art's "Jungles in Paris" exhibit fill two floors of dim, gloomy rooms. The only color found is that of the bold, vibrant brush strokes in each painting. One piece, called "The Dream," depicts a woman is stretched out on a sofa amid a gathering of wild animals. This mysterious and surreal concept, consistent in every Rousseau painting, fills the dark rooms like a dream. Exhibit ends October 15, 2006. The National Gallery of Art is located at 600 Constitution Avenue NW. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is free. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian.
"Black Box: Jesper Just"
This must-see exhibit is a welcome respite from the usual gallery-walk style of most exhibitions. The Hirshhorn Museum's "Black Box: Jesper Just" instead showcases two short films inside a small theater. Neither production has a developed plot; instead, the films show snippets of people's lives using emotional juxtaposition. "Something to Love," for instance, compares old age to youth, during which a young adult symbolically becomes a man after falling in love with a woman. A soft piano plays in the background, replacing any dialogue, which makes for a very emotional film. Anyone interested in cinema or photography will greatly enjoy this exhibit for its multiple artistic elements. Exhibit ends in December 10, 2006. The Hirshhorn Museum is located at the corner of Independence Avenue and Seventh Street SW. Open daily 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian.
You might let irritating tourists keep you away from museums during the hot summer months, but fall is the perfect time to catch up on what you've been missing. So set aside your school books for the day and take a trip into the city – there is so much to see!
Downtown Eats: Making your D.C. adventure more delicious
Sculpture Garden Pavilion Café
Next to the National Gallery is the serene Sculpture Garden and Pavilion Café. The short, but tasty menu includes an assortment of sandwiches, salads and pizzas, none more than $9. Sit indoors or on the quaint little patio, either way snagging a view of the beautiful garden and its enormous stone fountain. After lunch, be sure to wander the garden's enchanting pebble paths, where you'll find abstract sculptures and colorful beds of flowers. Pavilion Café is located at 700 Constitution Avenue NW. Open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
The Bread Line
Typically, the most accessible and inexpensive places to eat are chains with predictable menus and no surprises. The Bread Line however, is an absolute treasure in comparison. Come lunch time, this hot spot is teeming, usually with World Bank and White House workers. Here you'll have your choice of mouthwatering soups, salads and sandwiches, all less than $10 and all with a spicy kick. The bread is fabulous (hence the name) and so is the atmosphere, so keep this great place in mind! Bread Line is located at 1751 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Open Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
4th Estate Grille
Just down the street from the Washington Post, you'll find a very unique dining experience. The 4th Estate Grille, chock full of journalism-themed décor, is adorned with hanging newspapers and framed front-pages covering historical events. Even the hostess stand is made of an antique printing press. Enjoy the grille's great food by indulging your taste buds at the buffet for under $11, or order soups, salads or sandwiches off the menu for under $10. Either way, the experience is unforgettable. 4th Estate grille is located at 1101 17th Street NW. Open Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.
Photos by Nic Lukehart