It was a delightful day museum hopping with a hiking club, blending culture with some outdoor activity. It seems the DC-area hiking clubs do lots of urban walks/hikes like this.
We started out at the National Geographic Society, where there was an exhibit of amazing photos that were “rejects” from published articles in 2010. The assignments ranged from post-coup Madagascar (I was thinking of you, Joyce) to exploring water issues in the West Bank (where Israelis won’t allow villagers to dig a well, and divert water to their own settlements, leaving Palestinians with nothing) and from locations along the Tea Horse Road in the Himalayas to a new railroad being built from oil-rich Azerbaijan to Turkey.
We then stopped at the Cowgirl Creamery, a very upscale and expensive cheese shop, en route to the National Portrait Gallery. There, we enjoyed lunch in a lovely courtyard spotted with live plants. It’s a real public space with groups conducting meetings there, while individuals were just reading or working on laptops.
The exhibits our leader had planned out for us included John Gossage’s A Pond, a series of black-and-white photos of a very nondescript pond in surburban DC, which carried a strong theme of paying attention to what’s around you and discovering what’s there. Then we went to Alexis Rockman’s Fable for Tomorrow, which were very strong, brilliantly colored paintings of the potential effects of global warming (Brooklyn under water), genetic engineering (obscenely obese cows and pigs fed on grains and giant square tomatoes shaped for ease of packing in boxes), among other themes.
We concluded our tour at the Smithsonian Castle, where there was a small exhibit of the winners of a Smithsonnian amateur photo contest, which were simply stunning.
And all it cost was the $2 fee requested to cover the expenses of the hosting club.