Friday, June 24, 2011

In Which I Find an Arid Climate

Hirshorn Gallery Fountain

On Wednesday I went to the Hirshorn Modern Art Museum first. The circular building was fun, with the galleries set up in two concentric rings on each floor. The art was meh. There were a couple pieces I enjoyed - a large sealed plastic cube with condensation from distilled water on its sides and ceiling, for example. I get a kick out of those art pieces that you're not really sure whether they're part of the exhibit or just something someone left there.

I also liked this one:

Modern Art

That's it, just those giant blue words on the wall.  Ah, modern art!

After an obligatory visit to the museum's gift shop (I love museum gift shops, and modern art museum gift shops are my very favorite kind), I walked down the street to the Botanical Gardens.

I had visited the outside gardens earlier, and I enjoyed them. But the inside! The conservatory definitely make this the best botanical gardens I've ever been to.

The greenhouses are divided up into rooms of various sizes according to climate. The different collections include Rare and Endangered Plants, Primeval Plants (plants that have been around for more than 150 million years), an Orchid Room, Hawaii, Medicinal Plants, a lovely Garden Court, a huge Jungle Room which includes a balcony at canopy level, and my favorite, World Deserts. I relished standing in a place with low humidity again!


Like much of the Smithsonian, this museum included several interactive parts. I actually really liked their choices for including hands-on exhibits. For example:

Smelling Station

There were smelling containers set up with groups of spices that make up different dishes.

Interactive Stations

There was also a station for exploring plant-based perfumes and crafts.

The best idea, though, was this room:

Children's Garden

How great is that?  (If you can't read the sign, it explains that the room is for kids to explore, touch, smell, and to use gardening tools to dig, rake, and water the plants.)

The Children's Garden was pretty empty when I went through. I watched one little boy run from fountain to fountain to pump water using a pump exactly like the one in front of our cabin at Bear Lake. There's also two tunnels made from plants, so I wandered through the path made from bamboo:

Bamboo Walk-Through

I'm sure it's a lesser-known museum in the Smithsonian's collection, but I sure enjoyed the Botanic Gardens.

I called my mom as I left to tell her about them (she would love it). We talked as I walked over to L'Enfant Plaza in search of a post office. I had tried to find the one that Google Maps claimed was near the Forest Service/Department of Agriculture earlier to no avail. My mom hunted for directions online and talked me to a grand hotel at L'Enfant by way of the Department of Education (as you saw). I went inside, ignoring the look I got from the doorman (I assume it was because I was a bit of a sweaty mess by this time. I miss my desert climate!). I couldn't see any signs of or for a post office, but I went to the gift shop betting that, like most hotels, if they sell postcards they must also sell stamps. Success!

I brought a pedometer with me on this trip, but I haven't been wearing it since it makes a little shuffle-clicky sound with each step. I had clipped it on that morning, though, because I really was curious to see how many steps my museum trips accumulated. They say 6000 steps for health, 10000 for weight loss. I walked over 18000 steps on Wednesday. Huzzah!

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