Thursday, June 13, 2013

Old Dog Discovers New Tricks in Washington DC

As part of the research to properly interpret Clara Barton and develop programs for the new museum, David and I have begun to study Washington history in detail to test for the city’s tour guide license.  We plan to give tours related to Barton’s time in Washington for visitors beginning this summer.  My friend and museum supporter Debra Friedmann, a licensed guide and Guild of Tour Guides Vice President is working with us to develop the tours.  The discoveries made during this process are fascinating, and I thought I knew a great deal about the District of Columbia!

Panoramic view of Washington City from Capitol building
Did you know that there are two underground art galleries between the Smithsonian Castle and the Arts and Industries Building?  I didn’t.  The Arthur Sackler Gallery, home to an ancient Chinese collection, a gift to the Smithsonian in 1982, is one.  The National Museum of African Art, home to a collection primarily from Benin (now Nigeria) is the other.  I’m looking forward to seeing these collections! 

Undated glass negative of the Smithsonian Castle
part of CBMSO Collection
Courtesy of US Gen. Services Administration
In correlation to Clara Barton, I found that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing did not print the Missing Soldier Rolls.  I am hoping the Government Printing Office, who did print them, has a copy!  I am on the hunt for a complete set.  Places Barton often visited are an area of intense interest.  Luckily, I have been able to identify the locations of many of these places.  Barton actually had several different residences in Washington.  Her home at Glen Echo was out in the country when she lived there, not in Washington proper. 
Clara Barton's Boarding House on 7th Street
Courtesy of Adele Air
Also new to me is the term Beaux Arts architecture.  I always thought of the buildings on and around the Mall as classic revivals based on the Greeks and Romans.  I found that historians consider several of these buildings Beaux Arts, a popular style in the late 19th /early 20th century.  The Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress, completed in 1897 is an example of this style as well as the West National Gallery of Art building, Union Station and the National Postal Museum.  
Union Station
Courtesy Wikipedia Commons
If any reader feels compelled to place a comment about something amazing they learned about DC, I'd love to hear about it, so please comment!


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