Travel&lifestyle CITY GUIDE
The Smithsonian , the world’s largest museum, education and research institute, dominates the National Mall in the heart of DC, with eleven museums and galleries, along with six other locations around the greater DC area. The galleries and museums, which are all free, also o er an array of lectures, concerts and films. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery focus on art, including an Asian art collection with Chinese jades and bronzes and textiles, an extensive James McNeill Whistler collection and other famous American artists including Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Kee e along with European masters. The striking, round Hirshhorn building features modern and contemporary art including works by Henry Moore, Je Koons and Rodin sculptures along with cutting-edge films. Visitors are encouraged to whisper their wishes to the branches of Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree for Washington DC”; in the summer months the tree “blooms” with hand- scribed wishes from visitors. As home to the world’s largest natural history collection, it’s no surprise that the Natural History Museum is enormous, including the ever-popular dinosaur displays, the Hope Diamond and Egyptian mummies. The African American Museum , the Smithsonian’s newest, documents African American life, art, history, and culture. Highlights include artefacts from America’s shameful era of slavery and civil rights fight to more recent cultural items, including a jacket and fedora worn by Michael Jackson. The Air and Space Museum is home to the 1903 Wright Brothers plane and a lunar module along with acres of aviation and space-related memorabilia. It also o ers hands- on activities, a planetarium and screenings of IMAX films on its five- storey-high screen. A short drive or trip on the city’s metro system takes you to the 65-hectare National Zoo , home to more than 1,500 animals, including the ever- popular giant pandas, Sumatran tigers and Asian elephants.
Guided tours of the US Capitol are open to the public and advance reservations are recommended. The Senate and House galleries, which are not included on the tour, are open to visits when in session. Australians can enquire about getting a pass at the appointment desk in the visitor centre. Just across the Potomac River from the Mall, American’s top military cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery , was created to honour those who had served the country. The formal and informal gardens and extensive grounds provide a scenic, peaceful and poignant reminder of the impact of military service. Key sights include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is guarded 24/7 by special sentinels – don’t miss the hourly (or half-hourly in the summer) changing of the guard – and President Kennedy’s grave. Fancy being a spy for a day? The International SpyMuseum ’s mission is to educate the public about espionage and intelligence work in an engaging, fun way. The museum, which is run by a former counterintelligence specialist, provides special tools and insight into the work of spies and secret agents. Anyone hankering to try out a bit of spy action will want to check out the museum’s “Spy in the City” activity, which involves using a set of clues, codes and intercepts to complete a secret mission somewhere in the city.
DC is awash in monuments and you can experience many of them for free. Luckily, most are centrally located and large enough in stature that you won’t need a map to find them. At just under 170 meters, the Washington Monument dominates the DC skyline. The obelisk was erected in 1884 in honour of the country’s first president. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on the same day, when numbers allow. The Je erson Memorial , which was inspired by the Patheon in Rome, is another must-see. An imposing bronze statue of President Je erson holds court over the grand marble rotunda, surrounded by inscriptions of some of his most famous words including the Declaration of Independence. The memorial’s location, on the banks of the Tidal Basin and a picturesque cherry tree-lined walkway, ensure that the memorial appears in many films and TV shows. Along the western end of the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial towers over the Reflecting Pool. Inspired by ancient Greek temples, 36 columns represent each state at the time of President Lincoln’s death. The words to the Gettysburg Address, one of Lincoln’s most famous speeches, is etched into the walls. Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a stark reminder of the ravages of war. The dark granite walls are etched with the names of the 58,286 servicemen who were killed or went missing during the Vietnam War. The memorial was created by architect Maya Lin, who won a contest to design the memorial while still in university. The remarkably simple but extraordinarily moving
Vietnam Veterans Memorial In ernational Spy useum
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
58 LSJ I ISSUE 48 I SEPTEMBER 2018
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