D.C. quick sightseeing opportunities

Sep 3rd, 1999, 09:28 AM
Posts: n/a
D.C. quick sightseeing opportunities


I will be in D.C. in December for a conference at the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel located across from the convention center. I've been to D.C. before and have seen many of the major sights. I did not have a chance to see the constitution, would it be located close enough for a quick run over during a lunch break? Also, are most museums etc. open only during normal business hours or might I be able to get some late afternoon, early evening sightseeing in? Thanks!
Sep 3rd, 1999, 09:53 AM
Bill Irving
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Kim, We had a stopover in D.C. for 1/2 a day(starting at about 2pm.) at the end of July, so we keyed in on closing times, in order to do the most we could. The museums closed at 5pm or 6pm.(We went to the Air & Space museum, then the Archives & then the monuments.) The National Archives - where the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, etc. was open until 9PM.(If I remember correctly, the National Archive is close to [behind?] the History museum?) The monuments are open til later at night also, but as we found out too late, for the Washington Monument, you have to pickup timed entrance tickets earlier in the day even if it is for entrance at 7pm. Not sure about the location in reference to where you will be staying. Hopefully another poster can give you that detail.
Sep 3rd, 1999, 10:09 AM
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Smithsonian Museums are open from 10:00am-5:30pm, so you should be able to get some late afternoon visiting in, though you will be kind of rushed. The National Archives are not far if you really want to see the Constitution. In December there won't be very long lines so you could probably breeze in and out. However, in my opinion (and I'm sure will get a lot of flack for this), I don't think it's worth going out of your way to see, if you are short on time.
Sep 3rd, 1999, 10:37 AM
Neal Sanders
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You're absolutely right, Ilisa; why would anyone want to go out of their way to see the document that provides the foundation for the United States' government? C'mon, take it back!

Kim, your biggest enemy is likely to be the weather. December is an "iffy" month in Washington; frequently wet and often cold. However, the convention center and Renaissance hotels are a stone's throw from the Gallery Place/Chinatown stations on Metro's Yellow and Green lines. Taking either of those lines south one stop will put you within sight of the Archives building (the station is Archives/Navy Memorial); one more stop will put you at L'Enfant Plaza on the south side of the Mall, and a short stroll from Air & Space and some of the lesser-visited museums such as the Freer that you've likely not seen.

Given the choice between soggy conference sandwiches and a chance to drop in on the Mall's museums, even if only for half an hour, I'll take the Mall every time.
Sep 3rd, 1999, 10:41 AM
martha python
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Stand firm, Ilisa!

I think most people could more profitably spend their time reading a copy of the Constitution than looking at the original in a glass case.

Perhaps this can segue into a discussion of flag-burning.
Sep 3rd, 1999, 10:58 AM
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Sorry, Neal, but I won't take it back. Martha actually expressed my opinion. Too many people go to the Archives and are proud of themselves because they saw the Constitution, but have no idea what is in it aside from the first and second amendments (which are usually misinterpreted anyway). Most Americans can't even differentiate between the preamble of the Declaration of Independence and the preamble of the Constitution. I firmly believe all Americans should read the Constitution and the Federalist Papers before even considering going to see the document. Now, I'll get down from my soapbox.
Sep 3rd, 1999, 12:01 PM
Neal Sanders
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Kim, my apology that your innocent query got in the way of this... but...

Ilisa, using your logic, I need never go to the Air and Space museum, because I can download photos of the exhibits from si.org. I need never go back to the National Gallery because I can view all of its paintings on line, or just check out the library book and stare at the art for as long as I like.

The Air and Space museum of which you are a proud docent exists because sometimes seeing something in the flesh is part of the experience of appreciating it. The Wright Brothers Flyer is just cloth and wood with a two-stroke engine attached to it, but it is the direct, lineal antecedent of every aircraft flying today, and we line up to look at it in wonder. Being able to see what the Wright Brother did, in person, heightens our appreciation for the genius of two inventors.

I have a print of a Sisley from the National Galr hanging in my office, but even though I can see that print five days a week, it doesn't stop me from paying homage to the original when I am in the Gallery's west wing.

And so the Archives houses two of the documents upon which the nation of which I am a citizen is based. I have copies of both documents in my home, and Lord and Taylor pays to have the Declaration of Independence reprinted on the back page of the "A" section of the New York Times every July 4. So why bother to see the original? For the same reason that I will go out of my way to see the Wright Brothers Flyer or an original work of art: because seeing the original is part and parcel of appreciating the genius of its creators. And make no mistake about it: those two documents are works of genius.

There are probably thousands of schoolchildren who are herded off of buses into and out of the archives, and who utterly fail to appreciate what they're seeing. I have no idea if they're "proud of themselves" for having seen it. Well, once upon a time I was one of those 13-year-olds herded into the Archives off of a school bus. But I looked at those documents and something clicked. The came alive.

And so just as seeing that Wright Brothers Flyer has probably spawned more than one aerospace engineer, so I can vouch that seeing those documents that you, "don't think it's worth going out of your way to see" caused me to take an interest in and better understand my country.

And now I'll get off my soapbox, too.
Sep 3rd, 1999, 12:22 PM
Posts: n/a
Kim, You'll be within 2 blocks or so of the Smithsonian's Natl. Musuem of American Art and the Natl. Portrait Gallery, both of which close for long-term reonovation next year. The NMAA is especially worthwhile. You can find out more about it and all the Smithsonian museums at ...si.edu/. Also, Thursday is late night at the Phillips Gallery. While it charges admission -- something of a shocker here in the land of the free museums -- its a good collection and their big retrospective will be open in December.

Sep 3rd, 1999, 12:39 PM
martha python
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May I borrow that soapbox?

The genius of the D of I and the Constitution is the thought behind it, thought that gains its expression in the words. Not the choice of paper, not the ink. If seeing those floats your boat, fine. But to me it's like buying something because someone famous owned it, not because you like the thing itself.

In contrast, you can't separate art from artifact in the case of the plane or the painting.
Sep 19th, 1999, 12:49 PM
gary krane
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I lived in DC for almost 10 years.
Pesonally, besides the museumns, the most exciting (dramatically speaking) things to watch are usually some of the House and Senate Committee and subcommittee hearings. You need to check the Washington Post (or TImes too possibly) A section, usally near the beginning, to find all the hearings happening on a given day. Usualy out of the 15 or so, there are 2 or 3 on extremely exciting issues, with often fantastic cross examination from the reps or senators, especiallywhen they are exposig yet another case of billions in fraud or waste on the part of pentago weapons systems (the biggest segment of our corporate welfare). But if your taste is social issues, they're likely to have that too, whether it be spouse or child abuse, or TV and kids violence.
Oh and don't forget the supreme court pleadings as well. Though I forgot how one gets to see those. The Congressional hearins are almost always easy to attend, free, etc. But Get there early to be sure to get a good seat.
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