Notes from Washington D.C.

 

Even with the help of GOOGLE, it took a few tries to find our “boutique” hotel in D.C. The basic street plan might have been an excellent one for carriages, but not so much for autos. Taking our rental car back was another challenge, even though it was technically supposed to be eleven minutes away. But we found it, and took the Metro back to DuPont Circle and walked back to our hotel that’s in what was once an embassy.

On Friday, we made our second visit to the Barnes Foundation. This is an unusual collection of art, because it was all collected by one man, Dr. Albert C. Barnes. Barnes made his money by co-developing an antiseptic used to fight gonorrhea. Barnes began collecting in 1912. He was a visitor to the home of Gertrude and Leo Stein in Paris. He began his foundation in 1922 as a school/museum in Lower Merion, an upscale suburb of Philadelphia. Barnes arranged his art within the foundation’s walls in ensembles, with the intent of demonstrating the connections of various art forms, from the old masters to Modigliani.  He died in 1951, and left the foundation in trust with the stipulation that the art be left exactly in place as he arranged it. We were able to view it that way in 2005. At that time visitors were only allowed two and one-half days a week with a 500 visitor per week maximum. At that time the foundation was having a financial crisis.  The foundation had wanted to increase its hours of operation to increase revenues, but the local Merion and Montgomery County governments vetoed that plan. The City of Philadelphia stepped in and offered a site for moving the collection, and after a considerable court battle, and with the help of several large charitable foundations, the new home was completed in 2012, and that what we visited this time. Although the art is arranged exactly as it was in the old buiding, it was a different feeling—but there was more light. Light to see the Renoirs, Picassos, Renoirs, van Goghs, Renoirs, Monets, Renoirs, Cezannes, Renoirs, many other great artists, and Renoirs. Barnes was Renoir’s number one fan and patron.

Having caught Roger’s cold, I took the day off on Saturday, while Roger went to the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.

Sunday, we drove to Gettysburg, and had a guided tour of the battlefield. I would highly recommend the tour to anyone who visits the site. The professional guides go with you, in your car, and stop at various places, all the while giving a very informative and entertaining talk about the battle. It is still mind numbing to consider that there were as many as 51,000 casualties in three days. We visited the Soldiers Cemetery, where Lincoln made his famous address this morning. Very moving.

Today we did the National Gallery of Art, starting at 10:00 am until it closed at 5:00pm, pausing for a very nice lunch at their Café. We didn’t finish—will go back tomorrow.

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