Visiting the museum

One of the things I’m extremely privileged in, living so close to Washington DC, is free access to some of the best museums in the world. I don’t take advantage of this nearly enough, so last week I spent two days in a row trying to rectify that. Day one, the Museum of Natural History (my favorite museum, I admit it), and day two the National Gallery’s West Building (the old stuff). I brought a sketchbook* and a pencil, and spent at least four or five hours each day just wandering between exhibits and sketching things. Well, sketching things that were conveniently secluded and maybe near a bench… The museums get really crowded in the summer, it’s difficult to draw otherwise…

Beside bones, the Natural History Museum has tons of taxidermy animals. Visitors often talk about these animals with their kids as if they’re alive, at the zoo. I overheard a lot of these conversations… Kids asking what the animals were doing, or insisting that the okapi was either a zebra or a giraffe (??), or adults claiming that they could take that bear on. It was interesting, too, the sort of people who’d stop and talk to me. In the Natural History Museum it was almost exclusively kids, and one teenager, who’d want to shyly complement me, or ask me questions about my technique. In the National Gallery, it was exclusively older men, also wanting either to complement me or nervously ask if it was ok for them to photograph whatever painting I was sketching from at the time. Interesting, and I’m curious to see whether my experience is much different when tourist season’ over.

I took notes on the name of what I was sketching from, but my handwriting is atrocious. If you’re having trouble reading it, let me know and I’ll transcribe.

Page 1The rest after the cut!

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