National Portrait Gallery

DC Real Estate Mama’s Summer Camp took us to the National Portrait Gallery on one of the steamiest of DC Summer days. It was so hot, all I could think of was that Summer in the City song and how the lyrics about the back of his neck getting dirty and gritty were so accurate.

The kids were parched and irritated when we arrived, but soon we entered the blissful air conditioning and got started checking out some art!

The big draw here is the Presidential Portraits, as evidenced by us asking a Docent where we were on the museum map and him replying, “Are you looking for the Presidents?”

Um. Yes?

So yes, the second largest collection of Presidential Portraits is here at the Portrait Gallery. Where’s the largest? The White House!

As a DC History fanatic, I was happy to see an exhibit about the naming of our streets, the quadrants and the General Plan of Washington from 1902, which is also called the McMillan Plan. DC was not developing well as a city believe it or not. Post Civil War, people were still pooping in containers and tossing it out their windows at night and wild animals roamed the streets. This was when they started getting the city into shape.

DC’s streets and landmarks were named after the white men of the Revolutionary and Civil War. As the times change and the city has changed, you see other people being represented, for example the 2020 Dedication of the Black Lives Matter Plaza.
We made our way through the Presidents, saw some good ones and some not so good ones. Then saw a portrait which was a special display of the female Chief Justices.

There’s also a lot of artwork of various famous people who have impacted life and culture.

There was some really interesting art, pieces on loan from other museums and the massive Electronic Superhighway by Nam June Paik. This is a super cool exhibit of electronic art, neon tubing that outlines each state boundary in the United States, with retro televisions in each state showing footage of things that the artist believed were the associations with that state.

You’ll see the Wizard of Oz play on the Kansas TV’s, Presidential Campaigns in Iowa, Casinos in Nevada, Alabama Civil Rights struggles, 96 Olympics in Georgia. If you look really closely, for DC you’ll see – surprise! Yourself!

We poked through the HerStory Exhibit – a gallery of female writers currently at the Museum. I tried to get to some other areas but of course, someone was hungry, which quickly turned hangry and we had to go find a McDonalds. Don’t these girls know I’m trying to balance education with fun?