Any trip to Washington D.C. needs to include a visit to the Smithsonian Institution. One of the five museums under its umbrella is the American Museum of History, a three-floor building filled with American memorabilia and keepsakes. An elderly lady, who looked older than the building itself, gave us a map and pointed out some of the exhibits. With our map in hand, my mom, my sister and I started exploring.
Our first stop was the Little Golden Books Exhibit. picture book covers lined the wall, the most famous being The Poky Little Puppy. Other titles include: Three Little Kittens, The Little Red Hen and Nurse Nancy. I was fascinated with the layouts of original manuscripts, being a picture book writer myself. Little Golden Books, which appeared during the Second World War, did more to advance the cause of reading than any other children's book series.
On to the next exhibit, a timeline of American history. It was filled with facts and figures. One highlight was Betsy Ross' flag with thirteen stars, one for each of the Thirteen Colonies -- the first Star Spangled Banner.
Another highlight was Archie Bunker's chair from the 1970's T.V. series All in the Family. It looked a little the worse for wear.
Next we visited the African American history section. Fours stools sat at a lunch counter, the one that hailed from Greensboro, North Carolina, This is the counter where four young blacks waited for an order of donuts and coffee which never came. I purchased a book from Niagara Falls New York recently called How Four Men Stood Up By Sitting Down. What a powerful story!
On the third floor we visited with the American Presidents. We photographed Abraham Lincoln's top hat and Ulysses S. Grant's carriage in which he rode to the White House on the day of his Inauguration.
Mom enjoyed the exhibit of the First Ladies' gowns. We photographed Mary Todd Lincoln's violet gown, Laura Bushes dazzling red dress and Michelle Obama's white creation which she danced in at the 2009 Inaugural Ball.
Then it was on to the Food Section. There we got to feast our eyes on Julia Child's Kitchen from Cambridge, Massachusetts, made famous in the 2009 movie Julie & Julia. Julie Powell was a New York City clerk working on behalf of the 9/11 victims' families. Looking for an outlet for her job stress, she decided to challenge herself to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year and blog about the experience. She developed a huge following, secured a book deal and a movie to boot. The last scene of the movie shows Julie Powell and her husband visiting the Smithsonian to view Julia Child's Kitchen. For more information see my blog posts "Julie & Julia" (August 14, 2011) and "Bon Appetit!" (August 15, 2011).
We said goodbye to Julia and headed downstairs to the gigantic bookstore where I picked out a Washington D.C. coffee table book and Mom chose a book about the American Presidents. I love museums!