After making it through week one of FEMA orientation, I had the weekend off! As I said in my previous post, the Bolger Center has a really great shuttle system that goes to a local mall, a CVS, and the metro station in Bethesda. So I was able to catch a ride to the metro station from the Bolger Center at 8 am and made it into Washington DC a little before 9 am.
If you’re visiting Washington DC and decide to use the metro to get around, you will be required you to purchase a “metro card.” It costs $2.00 for the card plus whatever you put on the card to travel around. I believe there were options for like a day pass for a fixed fee or weekly passes, also for a fixed fee. I put just enough on the card to get me to Union Station in DC and back to the Bethesda Station because I was planning on staying around the National Mall for the day.
So Union Station was my first planned stop in Washington DC. You’re probably wondering why I would want to hang out at a train station and take photos. I’m glad you asked!
Union Station has just went through some major restoration work through the partnership of the National Trust of Historic Preservation, American Express, Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corp, and the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation. The work was in response to the 2011 earthquake that Washington D. C. experienced; the Station’s ceiling was damaged. Oddly enough, the week before I headed into D. C. I received an email from the National Trust about the work that had been done on Union Station, which is why I placed it on my Washington Adventure Itinerary!
I arrived at Union Station around 9ish and a majority of the shops were not yet opened. I took photos of the main hall were the restoration work occurred. In the “Further Information” section at the end of this post, there are some links with more information about the work that was done and old images of the Station from the Library of Congress’s website.
After taking a bunch of photos of Union Station, I made my way to the Library of Congress. The Library offers free tours throughout the week and I wanted to check the place out because I love libraries! From the Station’s main entrance the walk to the Library is pretty simple: you just walk down First Street NE for a little ways and you hit the buildings of the Library of Congress!
Along the route I took some photos of the Senate Office Buildings and then detoured down Constitution Avenue where there were some nice houses and also the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. I didn’t go into the building but I did take some photos! I then continued down Second Street NE towards the back side of the libraries, where I walked behind the Supreme Court of the United States. Then I walked along the side facade of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, where the free tour that I wanted to go to was held.
So this walk occurred between 9:30- 10:00 am and there was like no one out walking around outside. The only people I saw were joggers and a guy with his two little kids…oddly enough they too were making their way to the Library of Congress. There was a huge kids event at the Library.
Located right across from the U. S. Senate Building, the Library of Congress, consists of three buildings: the Thomas Jefferson Building, the James Madison Memorial Building, and the John Adams Building. The tours are held in the Thomas Jefferson Building, which is the oldest building of the three. Down below I listed links to the “virtual tours” of the Jefferson Building and the other two buildings.
I made it to the Jefferson Building early. You do have to go through a security check: they check your bag and have you go through a metal detector. There is also a “coat room” where you can check your coat and bags, which I did so I didn’t have to carry around my stuff on the tour. The tour I made it to was the 10:30 am and the tours are first come- first served. You don’t need to sign up or anything, just be in the right place when it starts. There’s a short video that starts the tour that is about all the cool stuff the Library of Congress does.
There was about 30ish people who showed up for the 10:30 am tour. That large group of people was split up between a few different volunteer tour guides. The tour I was on was led by Cora, who is a retired English teacher and the group was about 15 people. Check out the photos from the tour I took; there’s history and other cool information with each photo!
The Library also has exhibit rooms and changing exhibits. The exhibit I was able to check out was related to the Presidential Inauguration and it was on display until February 4th. The exhibit had handwritten letters, speeches, and other artifacts from the inaugurations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. While all of the artifacts were cool, the one that I enjoyed seeing the most, was a photograph from President Lincoln’s 2nd inauguration in 1865. That was the coolest thing in the exhibit, being able to see an actual photo of Lincoln from when he was alive. I also love seeing and using historic photos as a resource because its an actual window into history. This in a link to the photo I saw on display: https://www.loc.gov/resource/cph.3a04233/, Lincoln is somewhere in the center.
Another exhibit I was lucky to see was, “Out of the Ashes: A New Library for Congress and the Nation.” It is located on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Library and guess what the exhibit is about!?!?!
Thomas Jefferson’s actual library that he sold to Congress in 1815.
What a coincidence, right? An exhibit about a library within a library…. I’ll stop there.
So the interesting thing about this exhibit. I think I might have gotten really lucky, a sign said the exhibit was “open,” meaning it might not always be open to the public. The library is behind glass and is is a circular display. There are lots of little different colored ribbons sticking out from books and the colors represent different things.
The last thing I wanted to share with you all in this post about my morning adventures is the National Gallery of Art. I technically visited the museum in the early afternoon but my next post about my “afternoon adventures” is going to talk about the National Mall and a lot of the monuments I saw walking around the Mall.
The National Gallery is located right on the National Mall. The art museum has free admission. Free things are great! The Gallery is huge and consists of two buildings: the West Building and the East Building. I went to the West Building, where all the art created prior to more modern times is housed. There is a “coat check” room at the museum. I did not check my coat and bag here but I should have. My bag was heavy.
The cool thing about the Gallery is you can take photos of any piece of art according to the Gallery’s website. I double checked with a docent because I just wanted to make sure I could take photos and to paraphrase what he said, “You’re a tax payer right? You can take photos of whatever you want…”
I did take photos and yet, I still felt like I was breaking some unwritten code of not photographing art. The way I justified my actions of taking photos, is that I would be sharing these photos with people who may not have the chance to visit the Gallery and see these images in real life. On that note, the National Gallery of Art’s website does have the ability to search their collections and to see what highlights there are on display. Check out that link in the “Further Information” section below.
There were a few moments while walking around the galleries that I might have gotten lost…in time and art. I somehow skipped a number of galleries. I left gallery 11, walked through a courtyard and then walked into another gallery and discovered that was gallery 25. I think I finally found galleries 12-24 by back tracking through “art time.” A similar thing happened in the galleries for Flemish artwork. I managed to time jump from art dated from the 1500’s to artwork from the 1700’s. I’m still not sure how.
There’s a lot of galleries in the West Building and it is easy to get lost. I was on a huge time constraint so I skipped over to the other side of the West Building and went through a number of galleries over there, which consisted of galleries of early American art, Impressionism, Hudson River School art, etc.
These are some of the images I liked the most. I’m not sure what the copyright would be on these images since all of these paintings were created prior to 1923, which makes them fall into public domain… On that note, these paintings are all on display at the National Gallery of Art. You can check them out, in better quality at their website, which is listed below.
So this is how I spent the morning in Washington D. C. There was a lot of walking! There’s also a lot more to talk about in my next post. If you have any questions or comments about the Library of Congress, Union Station, or the National Gallery of Art, let me know in the comment section below. Also, check out the links I shared, there’s a ton of cool things in those links.
Thanks for reading!
The website for Union Station: http://www.unionstationdc.com/
This is an article from the National Trust of Historic Places about the Union Station restoration: https://savingplaces.org/press-center/media-resources/union-station-celebrates-a-fully-restored-main-hall#.WJ24M_krLIU
Another article about the work that was done on the Station: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/2016/10/14/8da96d34-91e9-11e6-9c85-ac42097b8cc0_story.html?utm_term=.b885212fdc85
Link to Photos of Union Station from the Library of Congress’s website:
Library of Congress:
This is the general website for the Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/
If you are interested in doing a “Virtual Tour” of the Thomas Jefferson Building or any of the other buildings of the Library of Congress, here is the link: https://www.loc.gov/visit/tours/online-tours/
This is a link to an online exhibit of President George Washington’s papers, some were on display in the exhibit I saw: https://www.loc.gov/collections/george-washington-papers/about-this-collection/
Thomas Jefferson Library, which is an exhibit on the second floor: https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/thomas-jeffersons-library/
National Gallery of Art:
This is the link to the National Gallery of Art’s website: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb.html
An interesting article about public domain, artwork, and taking photos of art in museums: https://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/when-its-illegal-to-photograph-artwork/?_r=0
This link goes to the search engine on the National Gallery of Art’s website: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/collection-search.html
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument: https://www.nps.gov/bepa/index.htm
U. S. Supreme Court: https://www.supremecourt.gov/visiting/visiting.aspx
U. S. Senate: https://www.senate.gov/index.htm