Although I have been to Washington D.C a couple of time previous to today, I was able to visit a few new sites with different friends. Like the New York trip, our RCs handed out maps outlining our "home area" or the boundaries we had to remain within during our visit. Once these were passed out and the rules explained again, they let us go to find our own adventures.
|In the Sculpture Garden|
When we first arrived in D.C the home area was restricted to the National Mall, but the perimeter around the Georgetown area was a little bigger. We only had a few hours in the National Mall area, so I was not able to fully explore more than one museum during this time. To begin, we decided to walk through the National Museum of the American Indian, which none of us had even been to. Since our buses parked right in front of the Smithsonian, we had to diagonally cross the park in order to reach the American Indian museum. On the way though we spent some time in the Sculpture Garden, which was full of beautiful sculptures, trees, and flowers. I love how each sculpture had its own space, so that when I looked at any one of them, my focus was solely on the particular on I was enjoying. The greenery within this garden was woven into the display of the sculptures and they complimented each other excellently. If I am to return to D.C one day, I could easily spend hours just sitting in the beauty of this place and be perfectly content.
|Within the American Indian Museum|
The American Indian Museum on the other hand was filled with much more emotionally moving displays. From native artwork and tools, to the "Our Universe" exhibit, I saw powerful stories that convey the struggles, accomplishments, and desires of American Indians. While I walked through the exhibits however, I did not remember to think critically about possible biases within the information presented to me, and instead I just took in the words and videos as absolute factual history. I am not at all saying that the museum is laying out a false history of these people, but we have talked about in class how it is important to carefully analyze museum exhibits in order to pick up on context clues that may provide more information than is directly presented. Obviously this is something I need to work on. I did however pay close attention to my surroundings when we entered the gift shop. American Indian music, jewelry, decor, and books were all up for sale and the store was filled with tourists trying to buy their own piece of history. To me, I feel like selling off all of these emblems of American Indian history is just another trap to get consumers to purchase more stuff that, in this case, makes them feel closer to the people that they have just spent the past hour learning about. It's strange to think that we want to buy all of these items, as opposed to actually going out into the world and getting real life experience with American Indian people. In addition to this, I know that a great deal of work goes into making the pieces of art that were on display there, but I don't understand how they can try to sell rocks for five dollars a piece. While rocks were and are an important part of American Indian history as they are a part of the earth, I don't know how there can be any real connection made between the person who purchases the store rock and the person who actually lived near a river bed, near their rocks. This is what I do not appreciate about museum gift shops, because it all seems impersonal and detached. People feel that if they buy these items they can make some sort of connection to the creator of that item, but it seems like a superficial attachment that will never unify the two people. That is all I could think about during the time we spent in the gift shop, and that is why I could not bring myself to purchase anything at all.
When we rode over to Georgetown University, I was really excited to walk around campus because it is so beautiful. I loved all of the brick buildings that made up the university as well as the surrounding neighborhood. It is interesting and strange to see so many buildings made up of bricks because we have practically none in shaky California. Besides the look of the area, we found a great place to grab dinner at called the Tombs Restaurant. We discovered that this spot is quite popular among Georgetown students during the school year, and I completely understand why. The food was delicious and cheap compared to the shops down on M street near by; a perfect place to grab a snack or eat a meal at. The whole atmosphere of the Georgetown area was so friendly and beautiful that I could picture myself living there, so I am glad we went on this trip. Finally, the weather there was really cool as well. It had been pretty humid all day in D.C at the National Mall, but in the Georgetown area it began to rain while there appeared to be no clouds in the sky at all! It was so beautiful to have the warm sun out, shining down on me, and then to have a cool rain pour down as well. This experience was wonderful and I am quite fond of Georgetown University after making this visit today.