Thursday, June 10, 2010

Museum hopping? Not so much, says Mother Nature

Last Sunday I set out with grand plans to fully explore the Dupont Kalorama Museum Walk and hit up some of the museums that I didn't see last year on this same freebie weekend.*  I mapped out my plan of attack (literally - pulled up the map online and figured out my best walking path since I didn't want to deal with waiting in shuttle lines), which involved Anderson House - The Society of the Cincinnati, Dumbarton House, Fondo del Sol, and possibly another stop at my favorite from last year, the Phillips Collection.  Operation Do-Something-Kinda-Cool-Instead-of-Wasting-Away-the-Weekend is a go!

However, I got a bad feeling when I popped out of the Dupont Metro stop and was greeted with a sky that looked something like this**:

Hmmm...looming stormclouds don't exactly bode well for going from museum to museum.  Spending time inside a museum, yes, but I really didn't want to do more than quickish stops at each one - this was not going to be some Louvre experience.***
I had just made my way to Anderson House, headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati, when the first raindrops began to attack.  I did at least have my umbrella, but flip-flopping around wet sidewalks, getting caught in errant rainstorms, and admiring beautiful gardens from indoors wasn't exactly what I had in mind.  So...I made the most of Anderson House.

Minor history lesson:  The Society of the Cincinnati was founded at the close of the Revolutionary War by the American officers and their French counterparts basically as a reason to get together every now and then and hang out to preserve the rights and liberties for which they had fought and to foster the bonds of friendship that had been formed among them during the long years of war.  At some point along the line they needed a fancy headquarters, and Anderson House, a Beaux-Arts mansion that was originally the winter home**** of an American diplomat (and member of the Society of the Cincinnati) and his wife, fit the bill in 1938.

Some additional tidbits for you:
  • George Washington was elected the Society's first president general, a position he held until his death in 1799.
  • The Society of the Cincinnati is the oldest private patriotic organization in the United States.
  • Anderson House is filled with all kinds of crazy-cool art, including four hundred year old tapestries they're restoring, a large collection of Asian art, and painting of every shape and size, including a particularly impressive in scale painting by José Villegas - The Triumph of the Dogaressa Maria Foscari - depicting a fifteenth-century coronation in Venice.  I was in awe.*****

  • Want to join?  You'd better be an eligible descendant of commissioned officers of the Continental army and navy and the French army and navy who served in the Revolutionary War. 
Oh, and you know what I realized after the fact?  Anderson House is always free.  Too bad I didn't get my freebie's worth on the typical $8 admission to the Dumbarton Oaks gardens or weekend $10-12 (free - with suggested donation - during the week!) at the Phillips Collection.  But I did get to see a pretty old house! 

The raindrops persisted, so I treated myself to a BGR burger (burgers are known to cure many ailments, including rainy day blues) and Metro'd home to watch the raindrops instead of walk in them.

* Why is it that we're drawn to things when they're advertised as "free free FREE!!" even though we wouldn't mind shelling out the $10 or so for what would likely be a more enjoyable experience since said experience would likely be less filled with all those other people who came just because it was free?  Just a thought.

** Ok, it didn't look something like that - it looked exactly like that.  Isn't that one reason to haul the camera around?  This way I don't have to come home and draw pictures and get out watercolors to approximate storm clouds.  Geez.

*** And, with a slightly ironic twist, my adventures in the Louvre with Carrie and Jason a couple of summers ago...extended by a rainstorm!  If it hadn't been for that rainstorm inspiring us to stay indoors just a little while longer, we might have missed the Code of Hammurabi and cool Egyptian things.

**** Again with the irony - a winter home in Washington.  What's wrong with Key West??  Oh, fine, you're a diplomat and need to hit up the hot social scene in the nation's capital between New Year's and Easter and host people like Winston Churchill and a couple of presidents.  Gotcha.

***** In case you can't tell what I'm in awe of, it's that giant painting behind my head.  It really was very impressive.  Here's a closer shot of the middle that my head is actually blocking:

Those empire waists really do wonders for the lower body!


Girl Interrupted said...

I'm a total history geek so I found this post really interesting! That picture is gorgeous, if I ever get married my dress is going to be empire line, it's so classically feminine.

It rained when I visited the Louvre too,

Erin said...

I'm chock full of history geekiness here in D.C., so I'm glad someone else can enjoy!

I also really do love empire waistlines. So purdy.