Balustrades? Balusters? What Is This Jargon!?!?

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about some architectural jargon, so that’s what we’re doing this morning!

So, balusters…. balustrades…. you’ve seen them, you’ve heard of them but really, what are they? Could you actually define them? Everything you’re about to read, will be on the test later. So pay attention!

A balustrade as defined by my handy-dandy “Guide to Vermont Architecture” says this:

“A row of vertical balusters or other elements topped by a handrail and used to edge stairways, porches, balconies, and roof lines.”[i]

While Architectural Digest writes this:

“A row of small columns topped by a rail.”[ii]

So, what exactly is a “baluster”?

It just so happens that a “baluster,” is one of number of terms that can be used to name a turned or rectangular upright support seen in the balustrade. Other names you may see include: “banister,” “column,’ “spindle,” or even “stair stick.”[iii] Personally, “stair stick” is my new favorite and will be the technical term I use going forth in any official building description I write ever again. That’s a joke, I’m like 90% sure no State Historic Preservation Office would be pleases to see balusters called “stair sticks.” The term, “baluster,” can also be used to described a type of metal candle stick, an upright furniture support, or event the stem of a brass chandelier.[iv]

Balusters and balustrades can be seen in a number of different forms and materials including wood, stone, metal, and plastic. In the history of baluster development, cast-stone balusters were first developed in Great Britain during the 18th century. While cast iron ones didn’t make an appearance until the 1840’s.[v]

The term, “baluster,” didn’t really come into use until the 17th century and originates from the Italian word, balaustro or balaustra, which in turn comes from the Latin word, balaustium. All of these words by the way means, “flower of the wild pomegranate.”[vi] We’ll come back to that interesting word in a moment.

Even though the word “baluster” and “balustrade” wasn’t in use until the 1600’s, the architectural element makes its first appearance in ancient Assyrian sculptural murals, also called “bas-reliefs,” which date all back to the 13th-7th century BC. In the murals, balusters and balustrades can be seen in palaces lining windows. This helps hone in on the function of a balustrade other than potentially being a decorative architectural feature, it helps reduce the possibility of a person falling. While balustrades make an appearance in ancient Assyrian art, we’re not sure exactly if there was a specific word used for the building element. Another interesting thing is that balusters and balustrades do not appear in ancient Greek or Roman ruins or art. The Romans did use a type of lattice structure though, crisscrossed panels called, transennae or clathii that could be constructed of wood, bronze, or even marble.[vii]

Balusters and balustrades as we know them did not reappear in the “modern” era until the Renaissance in Italy- not surprising because of the Italian origin of the word. The first known or maybe surviving first use of the balustrade in architecture is on the Pitti Palace in Florence constructed c. 1448. Another important, early example of the balustrade can be seen on the Drum of the Tempietti, which was designed by Donato Bramanti c. 1502. The Drum is at the Monastery of San Pietro in Montorio, which brings us back to the Italian and Latin root of “baluster.” Both origin words of “baluster” means the “blossoming flower of the pomegranate.” Most likely when you think of a single baluster, you think of a vase shaped mini column, which is actually what the blossoming pomegranate flower looks like! Some more trivia about balusters to impress your friends with include that the narrow section of the vase shape is known as the “sleeve,” while the wide section is called the “belly.” The balusters at the Drum of the Tempietti consist of two vase shapes connected at the “belly” end, which kind of looks like a candlestick and was probably inspired by Roman candlesticks. This type of baluster design is sometimes called the “double” baluster.[viii]

Last little tidbit on balusters and balustrades is that they can be found on staircases or porches, as well as along roof tops or roof lines, in a variety of different architectural styles including: Neoclassical, Colonial Revival, Federal, Georgian Revival, Beaux Arts, and Italian Renaissance Revival.

See below for a bunch of examples of balusters and balustrades I’ve photographed throughout the years!

Belvedere Castle
View of the vase-shaped balusters in their balustrade from the Upper Palace of the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Austria. The baroque castle was constructed from 1717-1723.
The Great Hall of the Library of Congress
This is an interior view of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Specifically we’re looking at the ornately designed Great Hall, which along the upper level has a marble balustrade.
Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress
A view of the Main Reading Room in the Library of Congress, which also has a lovely balustrade, which consists of the “double” baluster. The Library of Congress is a Beaux Arts style building constructed from 1890-1897 and the main architect was Paul J. Pelz.
US Capitol Building
This is the balustrade that can be seen along the roof line of the US Capitol Building. The building was designed by William Thornton in the Neoclassical style and was constructed from 1793-1800.
Crocker Museum
Interior view of the Crocker Museum, which is located in Sacramento, CA. Looking up in the ballroom and you can see the wooden balustrade up above. The Crocker House was redesigned in the Italianate Style by local architect, Seth Babson and was officially completed in 1872.
Frederic Remington Museum
A view of the balusters and balustrade on the front porch of the Frederic Remington Museum located in Ogdensburg, NY. The house was originally constructed in 1810 for David Parish, an early resident.
Hearst Castle
A view of the front facade of Hearst Castle, which is located near San Simeon, CA. The castle was designed by Julia Morgan in the Mediterranean Revival style for William Randolph Hearst. The structure was worked and from 1919 to 1947. The balusters and balustrade visible on the upper level are in association with window and balcony openings and are most likely constructed of metal.
Vesuvio Cafe
Vesuvio Cafe in San Francisco features a balustrade with “double” balusters along the mini balcony created by the set of french windows on the second floor. The building was designed in 1916 by Italian architect, Italo Zanolini.

Add a comment if you have any questions or thoughts about balusters and balustrades!

Thanks for reading!

 

End Notes:

[i] Curtis B. Johnson, editor and Elsa Gilbertson, Principal Author, The Historical Architecture of Vermont: Guide to Vermont Architecture (The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1996) 24.

[ii] “What Is a Balustrade?” Architectural Digest, July 31, 2015, https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ad-glossary-define-balustrade.

[iii] Buffalo Architecture and History, Illustrated Architecture Dictionary: Baluster. http://www.buffaloah.com/a/DCTNRY/b/baluster.html and Wikipedia’s page of Balusters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baluster

[iv] Wikipedia’s page of Balusters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baluster.

[v] Buffalo Architecture and History, Illustrated Architecture Dictionary: Baluster. http://www.buffaloah.com/a/DCTNRY/b/baluster.html

[vi] Calder Loth, “Balusters,” Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, June 1, 2011, https://www.classicist.org/articles/classical-comments-balusters/.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid.

Afternoon in the Capital: History, Monuments, and Thoughts

After I finished walking around the National Gallery of Art, I started heading towards the Lincoln Memorial, which is located at the opposite end of the National Mall from where the U. S. Capitol Building is located.

The National Mall

So now would be a good time to talk about the National Mall and it’s history. The National Mall is the area located between the U. S. Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial. The Mall is home to many memorials and monuments representing different historical events and figures from our country’s history. I was able to see a few of the biggest monuments even though I was short on time. The National Mall is also known as “America’s Front Yard,” and I use that phrase a couple of times below.

Click though the following images of the National Mall landscaping and some of the memorials I saw that didn’t fit in anywhere else in this post.

So looking west of the Capitol Building, you can see the whole of the National Mall. The Mall dates back to 1791, when Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant began creating designs for the new capital city.

I’ve broken the history of the Mall into a very simple time line drawing from a number of sources, which are all listed below. What I have included in the time line relate specifically to monuments and sites that I saw while walking around the National Mall. There is a lot I have left out and I know that. I look forward to the day I get to go back to the National Mall and see everything I missed!

Time Line:

1791 George Washington chooses a central location for the new capital city of the United States of America. HE enlists Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant to design the new city. L’Enfant was an aide to Washington, a French engineer, and his designs were influenced by Baroque town planning. In his plans, L’Enfant, based everything around the President’s House and the Capitol Building. He designed a 400-foot wide, mile long avenue: the west axis from the Capitol, the basis of the National Mall. While the south axis from the President’s house would be a lawn and garden.
1792 Construction for the White House begins. Designs for the White House are chosen from a competition; the winner was James Hoban, an Irishman.
1793 Dr. William Thornton’s designs for the United States Capitol is chosen.
1800 The White House and the U. S. Capitol Building are more “completed.” The location where imaginary lines from the White House and the Capitol intersect, is where a monument to Washington is planned. The location is very marshy, so nothing is built.
1814 The British sack Washington D. C. Luckily the weather was crappy that day and a huge rain storm put the fires out at the White House, and most likely the Capitol.
1820 A canal is built going east-west on the north side of the Mall. It connects the Tiber Creek with the Potomac.
1827 The U. S. Capitol Building is officially completed.
1840’s Railroad tracks are laid across the eastern section of the Mall, separating the Capitol grounds from the rest of the Mall.
1848 Cornerstone for the Washington Monument is laid.
1851 President Fillmore commissions Andrew Jackson Downing to design a public park for the Mall- the designs are never fully executed.
1861-1865 The National Mall is used for military activities during the Civil War.
1872 That canal is removed!
1885 The Washington Monument is completed. Finally.
1902 The Senate Park Commission happens. Daniel Burnham, Charles McKim, and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. are all involved with evaluating the National Mall and giving feedback on how to improve the land for the public. Ideas that these three guys come up with are based on the “City Beautiful Movement”- rationalized axis, cleaned out inappropriate structures (the railroad), established a site for a new memorial for President Lincoln. The main idea is to “plan rationally for the common good” and civic pride in communities. They also narrowed the National Mall from its original 400 feet wide to 300 feet wide with rows of American Elms bordering the Mall. See photos above of the rows of trees.
1909 That railroad is removed! Finally!
1914 The Lincoln Memorial is started.
1922 The Lincoln Memorial is completed.
1993-1995 Korean War Veterans Memorial Constructed.
2001-2004 National World War II Memorial Constructed.

The U. S. Capitol Building

The U. S. Capitol Building was where I started my journey at the National Mall; it is located right across the street from the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. See my previous post for more information on the Library of Congress!

The Capitol was designed by an amateur architect- Dr. William Thornton, originally from the West Indies. He literally based his designs for the Capitol off of what he saw in the architectural books of his time and he submitted his plans well after the design competition had ended. Thornton’s design was greatly liked by Washington, Jefferson, and chosen as the winning design. The original designs consisted of a modest dome atop a cubical central section that would be flanked by two wings for the House and Senate.

Construction on the Capitol Building started in the same year that Thornton’s design was chosen- 1793. The building was supposedly “completed” in 1800 but that didn’t stop later architects from adding their own ideas to the building. In 1803, Benjamin Henry Latrobe ( a really important architect) was appointed “Surveyor of Public Buildings” by Thomas Jefferson. Latrobe continued work to the Capitol by redesigning the interior and completed the House wing.

Then the War of 1812 happened. The building was burned but the Capitol was salvageable. Latrobe began work on rebuilding the Capitol around 1817-19 but was replaced by Charles Bulfinch (another really important architect), who saw the Capitol completed a second time in 1827. Another architect, Thomas U. Walter, worked on the building in the 1850’s. Walter designed new, larger wings for the House and Senate because of the growing number of Senators and Representatives (new states). Walter also replaced the dome with a Baroque, cast iron dome, that was double layered.

The Washington Monument

Along the way to the Lincoln Memorial I stopped briefly at the Washington Monument. There’s not a lot to say about the Monument. It’s tall. It’s also closed for repairs until 2019. At it’s base (well the bottom of the hill the obelisk stands upon) there is a gift shop with bathrooms. I checked it out since I’m always on the lookout for fun souvenirs. Oddly enough, what I was looking for, was a map of the entire National Mall with info. I seemed not to be able to locate one; I might have been looking incorrectly though…

Anyways, I didn’t get up close to the Washington Monument because there was a bunch of people at it’s base and I felt I could easily see the monument from a distance. As I was continued past the Washington Monument to get to the Lincoln Memorial, I did help a fellow visitor take some selfies in front of the Washington Monument. She was very nice and gave me a hug! I hope she enjoys her photos that I helped take!

So even though I said there’s not much to see at the Washington Monument, it actually has a very interesting history.

You see, there was a proposal for a monument to Washington while the man was still alive. He was like, “No. We have more important things to do. Did you forget, we have a NEW CAPITAL CITY to build. And. Oh, that’s right. BTdubs, we’re pretty much broke because of the war we just fought.”*

So the Nation held off on building a monument to George Washington until 1848, when the cornerstone was laid for the monument on July 4th. Funding ran very low by 1854, so construction stopped and then a political groups named the “Know Nothings” took over “construction” and ironically did almost nothing to the monument. Then in 1876, the Nation got a fire under these asses because that year marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the country and realized that, “Hey, now would be a good time to finish the half built tower to Washington that’s been sitting, neglected, in America’s front yard for the past two decades.”**

President Grant authorized the federal funding needed to finish the monument-work began in 1879 and the Washington Monument was FINALLY finished in 1885. It was officially opened in 1888. During this 37 year construction adventure- a funny thing happened- the quarry stone couldn’t be matched when construction picked back up in the 1870’s. So the Washington Monument is two different shades of white marble. Look at those photos again and find where the changes in marble start!

The Lincoln Memorial

To get to the Lincoln Memorial, it’s a trek. When I arrived at the Memorial, it was about 3:00 pm. It was packed with lots of people and not to be negative about the other visitors but there were many school groups visiting the Lincoln Memorial. Some of the groups seemed well behaved and then there were other groups that definitely needed more supervision- there were students sliding down the smooth sections of marble running along the side of the stairs (there’s a real word for that space- I can’t think of it- if you know the name, let me know). I wasn’t sure how to handle watching people be disrespectful of the Lincoln Memorial. It just seemed inappropriate and honestly it pissed me off.

I went to the Lincoln Memorial not to just take some nice photos of a very popular tourist attraction in the Nation’s Capital but to pay whatever respects I can to the 16th President of the United States, who worked to hold this Union together during a time of darkness in our country’s history. I also went to there to stand on the same steps that Martin Luther King Jr. stood on and try to imagine what it was like on those steps on August 28, 1963. The Lincoln Memorial is a place to reflect on our Nation: where we have been, how far we have come, and how much further we need to go as a Nation.

Within the Lincoln Memorial there is obviously the statue of Lincoln but there is also some really amazing inscriptions on the walls to the right and left of the statue. To the left of the statue of Abraham Lincoln are the words of the Gettysburg Address, while on the right is Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Speech from 1865.

In my last post, I talked briefly about getting to see a photo from Lincoln’s Second Inauguration, while I was at the Library of Congress. So, it was really cool to have seen an image of Lincoln on his inauguration day while I was at the Library, and then be at his Memorial where the words he spoke were inscribed on the walls.

Sorry, I’m totally history nerding out right now. It’s just really exciting!

I also discovered, after the fact, that there is an inscribed step on the Lincoln Memorial to signify exactly where Martin Luther King Jr. stood. Sadly I did not see this when I was there at the Memorial. Like I said, there were a lot of people there when I visited and the time I had was also limited because I had one last stop to make.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

I left the Memorial around 3:40ish and had to book it to my last planned stop for the day: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Museum closes daily at 5:30 and I wasn’t sure what to expect for crowds when I got there. I got to the Museum at 4ish and there was a small line to get in. This time of the year is considered the “off season”, so I did not need to get tickets prior to visiting the museum. The museum is free to visit but during the busy tourist season, admission tickets are needed and can be picked up at the museum in the morning or reserved online.

Before you enter the main exhibit, which you take an elevator to the top floor where it begins and work you way down to the ground floor. Before entering the elevator, you grab a small “identification card” booklet. Within the pages of the booklet is the biography of a victim of the Holocaust; you read different sections of the booklet as you progress through each floor of the museum.

My knowledge of the Holocaust isn’t extensive but I know a lot- in high school I took a course on the Holocaust through my school’s distant learning program. I’ve also visited the Holocaust Memorial in Boston, MA. So my understanding of the rise of the Nazi Party, the Final Solution, and the genocide of Europe’s Jewish population and other “undesirables” such as the Romani, Serbs, Ethnic Poles, Communists, Freemasons, Homosexuals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, is very clear. The main exhibit added to my knowledge.

I visited the museum as a way to remember those who were murdered and to share what I have seen with those who haven’t or maybe don’t have the ability to visit the museum in person.

The museum was dark, grim, and yet I have these photos from inside the museum- a wall of beautiful portrait photographs, names of places, and of people who were victims.

I had a lot of feelings walking through the main exhibit at the museum. I don’t know what the right words are to explain how I felt about it. But walking through the glass corridors where the names of places and people are inscribed I thought about what that walkway might look like when the light is shining through those names. It just might be terrible and beautiful at the same time. They are the names of those who died. I read their names and I paid my respects to them. I think about how reading their names and seeing their faces means in a way they are not forgotten and they never will be.

Which brings me to the “identification card” that I picked up randomly from the piles of cards you can choose from at the beginning of the exhibit. The identification card I received was for Bella Judelowitz. Bella and her family lived in Kuldiga, Latvia. She and her husband, Daniel, had 10 children, one of whom died in infancy. Together, Bella and Daniel, ran a bakery-grocery store in their town, which was eventually taken over by a few of their daughters. Bella was in her seventies when her and Daniel were deported in 1941 and never heard from again.

The following link goes to a search from the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website for Bella and members of her family: https://www.ushmm.org/search/results/?q=judelowitz. One of the people listed is Fanny Judelowitz, who I assume was a granddaughter; she survived the Holocaust. I tried researching more on Bella’s other children but I haven’t been able to find out a lot. If anyone can shed light on the rest of her family that would be nice or where to even start looking, that would be wonderful.

The White House

By the time I left the Holocaust Museum, it was about 5:30. I was hungry, thinking about everything I had just seen and read at the museum, and I realized I hadn’t seen one really important site while in Washington D. C.

The White House.

I had actually forgotten to plan to see the building. Luckily my phone had enough battery life in it to direct me in the general location of the White House. It was getting dark out by the time I found the White House but I did manage to take some photos!

If you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comment section below!

Thanks for reading!

Further Information

National Mall:

The general website for the National Mall, it will give you links to every site I saw while walking around the national park such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the World War 2 Memorial, etc: https://www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/lifestyle/the-evolution-of-the-national-mall/

http://tclf.org/landscapes/national-mall

Mark Gelerneter. A History of American Architecture: Buildings in their Cultural and Technological Context (Hanover, NH: University of New England, 2001).

U. S. Capitol Building:

https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

https://www.ushmm.org/

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/

Another person I wanted to highlight, is Gerda Weissmann Klein. She wrote an autobiography entitled, “All But My Life,” that details her survival during the Holocaust. I read the book when I was in high school. The link is to the Wikipedia page for Mrs. Klein and tells about the amazing things she has done in her life as a human rights activist and author: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerda_Weissmann_Klein. There are other resources about Gerda at the Holocause Memorial Museum’s website.

***Made Up Quotations

* Washington’s exact words to members of Congress about building a monument to himself.

**Probably an actual statement made in Congress to secure funding for the Washington Monument by President Grant.

Morning Adventure in the Capital

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!

Further Information

Union Station:

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:

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=Photograph:%20dc0254&fi=number&op=PHRASE&va=exact&co%20=hh&st=gallery&sg%20=%20true

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

Miscellaneous Websites:

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