DC at Night

DC at Night

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Making It to the Museums on Foot


A Santero sculpture greets musuem walk visitors at Fonda del Sol
For 30 years, the Dupont-Kalorama Museum Consortium here in DC has been offering its Museum Walk Weekend. Today, we made it to 4 of the 9 featured free-for-the-day museums. Some nice revisits and one great new find.

The Heurich House Museum
Completed in 1894, the iconic Victorian house was once home to Christian Heurich, a brewery owner (who at one time was DC's largest non-government employer) and landowner. Heurich, who immigrated to the United States from Germany  in 1866, lived in the house until he died at the age of 102. At the time it was built, the home cost $60,000. Today, with its marble floors, ornate carved fireplaces and shelving, and gilded decorative walls, it is impossible to recreate, thus making the home truly priceless. However, just the land it now sits on is valued at $1.6 million. Eleven of the home's rooms are now open to the public. Before she died in 1956, Heurich's 3rd wife deeded the house to the Columbia Historical Society, of which her husband was a founding member. When the society, now renamed The Historical Society of Washington, DC, moved to new quarters, a non-profit organization was created to operate the home as a museum. One other interesting historical sidelight. When Heurich closed his brewery, the location became the home of the John F. Kennedy Center for the performing arts.

The unique exterior of the Heurich House

The front room of the home with balcony for musicians
The Phillips Collection
Opened to the public in 1921 in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, the Phillips Gallery contains modern paintings on permanent display by Renoir, Rothko, O'Keeffe, Van Gogh and Diebenkorn. To me, the highlight of the collection is The Migration Series by black artist Jacob Lawrence, a masterpiece of narrative paintings portraying the movement of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North beginning in World War I. The most intriguing current exhibition is Vanitas by Jeanne Silverthorne. Silverthorne uses rubber to create floral reliefs and familiar objects typically found in an artist’s studio. Her sculptures are vanitas — meditations on the brevity of life. 

by Jeanne Silverthorne

Rubber silicone chair
A new discovery and definitely my favorite stop on the museum walk. Founded in 1973, Fondo del Sol contains a collection of pre-Columbian, Santero, and 20th Century Latin-American art, as well as selected Afro-American works. It is billed as the 2nd oldest Latino museum in America behind only the Museo de Barrio in New York City. With its folk and ethnic works, the museum says its mission is to represent and foster the diverse cultures of the Americas and the Caribbean. One intriguing exhibition now on display is the sculpture of Michael Auld.

Michael Auld sculpture based on a birdman carving found in a Jamaica cave in  the 1700s

"Dona Sebastian Carreda" by Gloria Cordova
The Woodrow Wilson House
This restored home of former President Woodrow Wilson is the only presidential museum in DC. Wilson, who moved to this house directly from the White House after the end of his 2 terms, lived in the house from 1921 until he died in 1924. His wife, however, lived here until her death in 1961. Wilson's public career and his life as an educator and private citizen are traced in a collection of White House objects, gifts of state from around the world, family items, and personal mementos.

President Wilson throws out the ceremonial 1st pitch in DC

The actual radio microphone that Wilson used to broadcast  his Armistace Day 
Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Ebony Rose performs the Phillips Collection
Our 3-hour museum walk/visit also featured a surprise musical sub-theme. At the Heurich House, we discovered an open 2nd floor balcony that was designed for live musical performances that could be heard in the entire downstairs portion of the home. At the Phillips, in preparation for the annual DC Jazz Festival (June 5 to 16) we heard the jazz stylings of  Ebony Rose. At the Fondo del Sol, we were treated to recorded Afro-Caribbean songs, including the strangest most-Voodoo like version of Guantanamera I've ever heard. Finally, to set a period mood, songs from the 1920's were playing at the Woodrow Wilson House.
Sheet music songs about Woodrow Wilson

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