Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Smithsonian's American History Museum--day two

When I found out the Smithsonian has 19 museums in DC I took a deep breath, packed a lunch and upped my vitamins.  Many of the museums are situated right around the mall (that huge grassy area that stretches for several blocks from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol) so I thought I would just start at one spot and work my way around.  Yes, I guessed it would take several days.

Here are just the highlights.....
The Smithsonian's are all free, all the time.  As a result I discovered to my dismay, they are very busy, crowded and noisy.  School kids from every part of the country show up through the proceeds from their lemonade stands and car washings,  and they learn real fast that the huge buildings with the high ceilings are perfect to practice their favorite football cheers--the echoes are awesome! Suggestion #1--bring earplugs!

I started with the Thomas Jefferson exhibit in the American History Museum and found a real gem....

Apparently Jefferson was a deist, a freethinker and a skeptic from all I could learn about him.  And one
indication of his philosophy lies in the 'Bible' he created.
By taking a razor to several copies of the New Testament he cut away all the parts that described supernatural happenings or anything he thought to be questionable in some way and saved all those parts describing the philosophy of Jesus.  I thought that was a bit like what King James did along with Gutenberg, and a few others.

This was "The Jefferson Bible"

Both the completed book and the cut up pieces that it comes from are on display.

So, from that deep and thought-provoking experience, I dashed over to see Dorothy's red slippers from "The Wizard of Oz".  All you have to do is look at these lovely red shoes and you will have no doubt--some 'supernatural occurrences' are true--no question. 

"In 1814, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore's Fort McHenry raised a huge American flag to celebrate a crucial victory over British forces during the war of 1812.  The sight of those "broad stripes and bright stars" became the United States National anthem."
The flag that inspired Francis Scott Key is on display.

As I expected the security people threatened to 'take away my camera' if I took a picture of the flag.  So I took the picture of the entrance to the room where the flag is laid out--and the flag is even bigger than the one they hung here that is made out of mirrors. I was duly impressed but that great flag is showing its age--198 years old. It is frayed and fading--but it still looks grand.

The security guys were not so picky about the first ladies dresses so I clicked away.

Michelle Obama's inaugural gown.

Things I noticed:  Michelle Obama was taller than all the others, Jackie Kennedy's feet were longer than mine, some of the first ladies were pretty fat and the early ones were more of the tiny munchkin size. But all of the gowns were exquisitely made and the very early ones with the tiny pearls and handmade lace were works of art.

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