The Past Meets the Future at Second Oldest Smithsonian Museum
Before there was a Smithsonian African American History Museum, an Air and Space Museum, or even a National Zoo, the Arts and Industries Building was the place to be. It was built to be America's national museum for which it's earned the nickname the "Mother of Museums."
The museum is reopening after almost 20 years with FUTURES, a one-of-a-kind, forward-facing exhibit that asks us to imagine what the future could look like.
But as AIB looks ahead, we want to take a look back at how the museum got its start.
Part two of two
The time you're near the Howard Theatre, be sure to look down or you'll miss an important part of DC's history.
Black icons with a connection to the theatre have been commemorated in Howard Theatre's Walk of Fame, a series of bronze medallions that embellish the sidewalk between the Shaw-Howard Metro Station and the historic venue. The promenade is like D.C.’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, You'll find names like Marvin Gaye, Chuck Brown, Moms Mabley and Ella Fitzgerald. The icons were chosen by the city for their connection to the Howard Theatre’s history.
Howard's Walk of Fame is actually the second one you'll find in downtown DC, so take that Hollywood!
Part one of two
Question: What do Frank Sinatra, Bonnie Raitt, Jay-Z, and Liza Minelli all have in common?
No, it's not that they're incredibly talented, though that's a fact.
Answer: Each one of them has a bronze star on the Warner Theatre's Walk of Fame which commemorates people who have performed there. The Warner Walk lets you do some stargazing and take a bit of a nostalgia trip all at the same time.
Warner is one of the oldest theaters in DC but even native Washingtonians are surprised to learn about this hidden gem and bit of local pop culture. Even lesser known is that this is actually just one of two Walks of Fame in the city, but that's another story .for another blog post!
There's more to art museums than just the Smithsonian in DC.
Feast your eyes and spirit at the Kreeger Museum, an oasis of vibrant 19th and 20th century paintings, sculpture and African and Asian art. The private collection of noted art enthusiast and philanthropist David Kreeger and his wife Carmen is housed in their stunning former residence, which is a work of art in itself, designed by renowned architect Phillip Johnson, with its Byzantine domes, travertine limestone clad walls, and interior courtyard filled with towering tropical plants.
Tucked away in Foxhall, the Kreeger isn't well known even to self-professed D.C. art lovers. You have to make an effort to visit the Kreeger because it’s not easily accessible. But visitors will find the secrets of its exuberant treasure trove of art work by the likes of Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Chagall, Miro, and Stella, and others, well-worth the journey.
Who says cherry blossoms get to steal the spring flower spotlight? There are plenty of stunning floral displays that will be blooming in D.C. this upcoming season! While the cherry blossoms grab all the attention, there's an abundance of spring flowers that often get overlooked—most of which can be found in grand displays across our very own city!
Hopefully, after getting your fill of the cherry blossoms, you’ll be inspired to learn more about the other plant life blooming around our nation’s capital. Daffodils, tulips, redbuds, and more are just waiting to be discovered.
Go Inside the President's Guest House Where Vice President Kamala Harris Will Be Staying Temporarily
Historic Blair House has hosted foreign dignitaries and several presidents in the days before their inaugurations. One even survived an assassination attempt within its walls
Blair House sounds like some kind of posh estate in the United Kingdom but it's right here in DC.
Better known as the "President's Guest House," it's where Madame Vice President Kamala Harris and her family will be staying while her new home at One Naval Observatory, the official residence of the Vice President, undergoes maintenance
Located just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and steps from the White House, Blair House serves as the president's guest house. It’s right near the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum so chances are you’ve walked by without even knowing it. Joe Biden and his family stayed here before Inauguration Day and his swearing in as the 46th President of the United States.
The historic home has hosted foreign dignitaries and several presidents in the days before their inaugurations. Lincoln is known to have been a frequent visitor at Blair House, which was a fast walk across Pennsylvania Avenue. One even survived an assassination attempt within its walls.
Wrangling an invite to Blair House is even harder than getting one to the White House. Security is tight and access exclusive. Go inside — and learn the history behind — the place our new VP will temporarily be calling home.
Number One Observatory Circle on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory is the traditional home for veeps.
Ask most people where the president lives and they’ll tell you, “the White House.” Ask them where the vice president lives and the answer is much less certain.
Even though it might not have the same ring to it as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, One Naval Observatory (located on the grounds of the 72-acre U.S. Naval Observatory) has been the official home to every vice president since Walter Mondale) in 1977.
When Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff move into Number One Observatory Circle, they will be only the eighth vice-presidential family in American history to do so. They’re currently staying at Blair House, the President's Guest House, while they’re soon-to-be new home undergoes maintenance.
DC has signature music, food and its own official dinosaur.
Forget images of massive digs like the one in the Jurassic Park movies, though. Apparently someone found part of a dinosaur vertebra and other bone fragments while excavating a sewer at First and F Streets SE in Capitol Hill in the late 1800s.
The bones were taken to Smithsonian scientists, but there was so little of it that paleontologists are still uncertain as to what this animal actually looked like. But since there was no agreement on the actual identity and classification of the bones, it was suggested that it was from a dinosaur unique to Washington, and the unofficial moniker Capitalsaurus was born.
More than a century after it was unearthed, there isn’t consensus on the actual identity of this prehistoric beast.
The official designation as the District’s official dinosaur is thanks to a group of fifth-grade students who enthusiastically lobbied City Hall to vote “yes” on vote “yes” on the Official Dinosaur Designation Act of 1998, Bill 12-538.
Today, January 28 is “Capitalsaurus Day” in D.C., marking the date the bones were presented to the Smithsonian. The block of F Street, SE where the fossil was discovered was formally dedicated as Capitalsaurus Court on January 28, 2000 (it’s the block that fronts Garfield Park).
Curious? There's more!
There are so many fascinating stories to uncover!
When planning vacation itineraries, graveyard visits may not be top of mind. But they are really open-air museums full of art and history and stories and nature. And sometimes you’ll find really creative nods to various lives among the headstones, too.
Congressional Cemetery in Southeast DC is a historic -- and still active -- 35-acre graveyard spanning more than 300 years. And despite its name, it’s a pretty lively place. The cemetery hosts several 5Ks, concerts, and outdoor movie nights, as well as a book club and yoga classes, and plenty of dogs and their owners frequent the grounds, too.
But despite its size and longtime history, Congressional Cemetery is a real hidden gem that many locals and tourists don't even know exists.
Be one with nature
Sweater weather is approaching, and with it gorgeous fall foliage that lures you into wanting to spend more time outside before we hibernate for the winter. Before coronavirus made social distancing a priority, local hiking trails were already go-to spots for respite from city crowds. Luckily, we have some suggestions where you can have the best of both worlds: great views and solitude. Here are seven options in DC.
Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it