Thursday, April 7, 2011

And by God, we are going to protect Julia Child

This week had sort of started to develop a theme, and though this post doesn't quite embrace the material, I would make the case that it's not too far off from either cooking or being an Italian. Also, like the lasagna, it will be posted in three parts.

A few weekends ago, my parents came to visit me in DC! I use an exclamation point because it was very exciting for me. It was weird living here without them knowing first hand where I was living, working, or having fun. Alex and I got to show them around the city, and we saw a lot of sights and visited a lot of museums. Here is part one of my favorite pictures from the weekend!

First, we visited the National Museum of American History. This is one of my favorite museums in Washington, DC. The best thing about it is, there are so many things on display that each and every American would recognize as part of not only American History, but also each of our personal histories. 

For example, walk in the door and step into to Julia Child's Kitchen.

Yes, really, her whole kitchen. Originally in located in her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Julia Child donated her entire kitchen to the National Museum of American History in 2001. Everything from her turquoise cabinets to the big Garland stove appears exactly as Julia displayed it in her kitchen.

Though glass windows prevent you from setting foot in the kitchen, the museum gives you a peek at more than 1,200 cooking utensils and gadgets Julia used to bake, broil, slice, and dice. My favorites were, of course, Julia's royal blue Kitchen Aid stand mixer, her Waring blender, and her interminable list of wine bottles that occupied their tiny wine cellar.

She really was something else. The first floor is also home to Science in American Life, the Spark!Lab, and America on the Move.

Next we headed up to the second floor and spent some time milling about the First Lady's Debut Gallery. The First Lady’s Debut gallery features 11 ball gowns worn by first ladies of the United States at their respective inaugural balls.

Inaugural ball gowns from first ladies like Jacqueline Kennedy, who designed her own gown with the help of Bergdorf Goodman, and Hillary Clinton, who wore fashion designer Oscar de la Renta are on display.

The collection also includes the gorgeous Jason Wu gown First Lady Michelle Obama wore at President Obama's inauguration in 2009. The second floor also includes Within These WallsCommunities in a Changing Nation, and the Star Spangled Banner, the real flag that inspired the song, which is 30 feet wide ad over 40 feet long.

Then there is the third floor which includes some of America's most treasured possessions, like Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

There is also a section on the American President, which includes Harry Truman's master key to the White House, a section on White House weddings, and ...

Chelsea Clinton's adorable ballet slippers.

After spending hours upon hours weaving our way around the National Museum of American History, we decided to pop over to the American Museum of Natural History to see the gem collection. The best part about the museums in DC is that most of them are free of charge making it easy to just stop by and see the one collection you are most interested in.

In the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History, a giant mounted Elephant appears to stroll through the wide open atrium. There was a lot of debate back and forth with my mom. She claimed that this was the real life Jumbo. Jumbo was a large African Bush Elephant born in 1861. P.T. Barnum purchased Jumbo for $10,000 and brought him to the United States to be part of his circus, The Greatest Show on Earth. This is not the real Jumbo. After Jumbo was struck by a train and died, his body was "dissembled" and sold off in pieces. Nice, right?

The most impressive gem in the American Museum of Natural History is the Hope Diamond, a large 45.52 carats, deep-blue diamond. Famous for it's history of being stolen, cursed, and reset by Harry Winston himself.

We also got the chance to see some good old New Hampshire Granite and some beautiful New Hampshire Fluorite.

To get back to the lobby, we made our way through the meteors and moon rocks, even getting to touch a piece of Mars.

In addition to visiting the American Museums of Natural and American History, we also visited the Newseum, and the National Air and Space Museum. More photos to come!

Have you been to DC? What's your favorite museum? Is the looming government shut down effecting your sightseeing plans?


  1. I personally think the Hope Diamond is kind of ugly. I love the American History museum though, it's my favorite of the Smithsonian museums. My non-Smothsonian favorite though is Crime and Punishment. So fun!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation. I haven't been to the Crime and Punishment Museum yet but am so excited to go. We bought a Groupon a few weeks ago. Maybe we'll go during the shutdown, since it will still be open!

    I loved the Newseum by the way. If you haven't been, definitely check it out when you are in town. Loved it!

  3. I live close to Julia Child's house, and it always disappoints me to think the kitchen isn't in there anymore. I definitely have to get down there to see it at some point!

  4. I haven't been in the First Lady's Debut Gallery since they redid the museum - it looks wonderful! I was actually at the Museum of Natural History this past weekend checking out the Orchid and Crochet Coral Reef exhibits.

    The problem with the shutdown is it's going to make all those other museums SO crowded because they are going to be the only option for the tourists who don't realize that the shutdown includes the Smithsonians. I hope, for everyone's sake, that the weather is nice!


    "ARGHH... oh.. wait, that's just New Hampshire flourite"