I never was an active museum goer, but ever since I arrived in DC, I decided to learn more about why DC is known for its museums. During my second term of my public relations research class, I was part of a group project that was tasked into presenting a communications plan for the Smithsonian Museum, which inspired me to visit many of the DC museums in person. When I was researching the the history of the museum, I found it striking that James Smithson never set foot on the US, but he believed in the ideals of America.I made a project of mine to explore a different museum everyday, as I am located near all of the top museums. Some of museums have inspired me and created new ideas that I have never imagined that humankind would achieve. I think that the most enduring aspect of museums is that they show the journey of humankind and what it can accomplish.
If we have the opportunity to see other aspects of life without having to actually go through the same experiences, many people would jump at the opportunity to do so.
National Museum of American History
This museum somewhat surprised me and somewhat didn't. For example, I anticipated the many sections on colonial history and the issues of women's emancipation and their right to freedom, however I didn't anticipate the collection on women's issues. Knowing and understanding the struggles that women faced to enfranchisement brings to light the struggle that women faced.This exhibit was so interesting to me because it explored the issues the all women face when entering society, and it feels reliving to know that that issues that young women face are been addressed. I have always understand the importance of the colonization of the US, but it is always fascinating to understand the individual stories that make up the US. One particular highlight for me was the Wizard of Oz collection, where the first coloured TV shows were highlighted and the elaborate costumes of the time were featured. I loved learning about the history of communication and how inventors found inspiration in the most unlikely of circumstances. So many elements, music, heritage, play into the American History story. When looking at the struggle for independence from the British, and the defining of the American struggle, the National Museums of American History teaches us that everything is in change, and that change is always better when it is universal.
2. Smithsonian Museum of Art History
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Smithsonian Museum of Art History includes a recent section on the Chinese American Artist Hung Liu,(1948-2021), who paid tribute to the hundred of people that she has never known and used imagery to create complex, multilayered paintings. This section of the museum really resonated with me because coming from a Chinese background, I could see how many Chinese artists often go overlooked in American history, but there is so much depth in Liu's work, from illustrating the expressions of the comfort women that she portrayed to displaying the refugees that each have their own story. The way that her artwork is portrayed reflects on the dire conditions of migrants and workers at that time. The way that the painting is constructed shows the way that emotions are really bleeding onto the page, and contextualizes the meaning of pain in a different way. We are taught that art is to give us understanding of someone's else's world, and we can see that perfectly clear in the expression of the worker. Another section that I really enjoyed was the American landscapes and particularly the Landscape with a Rainbow photo that was displayed at Biden's Inauguration, which was painted on the eve of the civil war and is imbued with signs of hope for the future.
3. Freer Gallery of Asian Art
I have never been much of an art critic, but from the Freer Gallery I learned how the power of art can allow us to see beauty, and many times that beauty is in daily life. The Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern art were all so powerful in their own perspectives and the representations that they used to reflect artwork. I liked how the Middle Eastern art emphasized the usage of sensory cues to connect with artwork, and how Indian art emphasized the relationship of the God and the body with artwork. The fundamental language of art is in the power of the interpretation of art. Through the artifacts of asian art, we can the importance that different artificats played in the civilizations of those before us, and how they continue to shape our values and our worldview.
4. Hishhorn Gallery
This gallery of modern art was one of my favourite because it showed the art is verstalite and there is a quote that I really enjoy that expands to modern art and the quote that "Tradition is the prison in which you live". This quote played on one of the pieces of artwork and I believe that way that modern art approaches life allows us to think outside the box and challenges the conventional ways of thinking. Standing at the box of Belief + Doubt, the representation of modern art is fully shown. I think that modern contemporary art allows us to voice the concerns that are below the surface. These issues - whether of mental illness, of new beliefs, or others - they are not one-dimensional, but they are multi-layered and contain in many forms. Contemporary life and modern life is riddled with so much anxiety and layers, and the artwork at the Hishhorn Gallery voices those concerns perfectly.
5. Planet Word Musuem
This particular museum is in downtown DC and harness the power of words and opened in October of 2020. Exhibits showcase the power of words and their effect on people. In the main stage there is a planet, where you can learn the different languages of people around the world. Furthermore, you can interact with all the words in museums and learn about the contextualization of each word. Originally constructed to be the Franklin school, the school was originally intended to model the original public school system. I really enjoyed the library and the speeches that were featured in the room beside it that showed words and phrases from important speeches in history. From John.F Kennedy's speech what you can do for your country, to Oprah's speech on women's empowerment, there are so many ways to be inspired at Planet Word.
Chelsea Reviews: 5/5 - I never have explored so many museums in such a short amount of time but I believe that museums allow us to explore a life that we never have lived, and that through vivaciously exploring another part of life, we better understand the world around us so that we don't have to make inferences or assertions that don't make sense. Knowledge is power, and power gives us the ability to make the choices that we want in life and choose the lives that we want to live.