Downtown, History, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

NMAI: Hear the Song of the Horse Nation

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courtesy of ‘bhrome’

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opened its doors this past weekend to a new exhibition, “A Song for the Horse Nation.” The exhibition, nestled on the third floor of the museum, tells the epic tale of the how the return of the horse to the Americas changed Native culture, from lifestyle to war to art and beyond. “For some Native peoples, the horse still is an essential part of daily life,” said exhibit curator Emil Her Many Horses (Ogala Lakota). “For others, the horse will always remain an element of our identity and our history. The Horse Nation continues to inspire, and Native artists continue to celebrate the horse in our songs, our stories, and our works of art.”

To walk the exhibit’s path is to walk side by side with the conjoined path of Native and horse. Though horses were introduced to the Native Americans relatively late in North American history—the early 1700s saw the initial widespread explosion of the horse from captured Spanish mounts in the southwest—the image of Indians astride these graceful animals is one that is common to modern Americans. The “Horse Nation” quickly entwined themselves with Native communities, forever altering tribal culture and the Indian way of life.

The Smithsonian’s exhibit seeks to give us a view into that not-so-distant past. But it’s more than just a simply history lesson: subtly but surely, “A Song for the Horse Nation” reveals how interwoven both horse and man became among 38 tribal communities from the Plains and Western United States. The horse was more than a beast of burden or a tool; the animal became a part of Native culture that still resonates among the people today. Continue reading

Downtown, Education, History, Special Events, The District, The Features, The Mall, We Love Arts

The Song of Emil Her Many Horses

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‘DSC_0027′
courtesy of ‘bhrome’

out of the earth / I sing for them
A Horse nation / I sing for them
out of the earth / I sing for them,
the animals / I sing for them.

~a song by the Teton Sioux

Emil Her Many Horses is, by first appearance, a quiet, unassuming gentleman. A museum specialist in the office of Museum Programs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), he is responsible for the facility’s latest exhibition “A Song for the Horse Nation.” A member of the Ogala Lakota nation of South Dakota, his expertise on the Northern and Southern Plains cultures is well served and seen in the exhibit that opens to the public tomorrow.

NMAI’s latest offering is a touching and brilliant display of how the horse has deeply impacted and affected Native cultures since their introduction to the Americas in the 17th century. “The exhibit tells the history of the horse; that they were here once before, migrated to Europe, and returned as the horse we know today,” explained Her Many Horses. “They changed Native culture. The horse had a major impact on hunting, warfare, travel, spirituality. These were big changes.” Changes that extend beyond the European vision of the animal.

Seen as a beast of burden, a tool, a weapon, the horse was brought and used by European explorers and colonists early in America’s “New World” history. And their introduction, according to many Natives, was probably one of the biggest positive changes brought about by the white man.

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Downtown, History

National Geographic Museum: The Etruscans – An Italian Civilization


‘Nattional Geographic – Etruscans 01 – 06-09-11′
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

I love history. And for me, the older the history, the more I love it. There’s something that fascinates me about seeing how the first people of a given culture tried to figure out the concept of civilization. And for the first couple of millenniums of human history the difference between civilized and true barbarism was incredibly fine. But sadly, DC doesn’t have a large selection of museums that cater to ancient history nerds like me. The Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum has an exhibit which hasn’t been updated since I was in elementary school; and Dumbarton Oaks Museum has a nice collection on the Byzantine Empire, but that is more medieval history than ancient. There isn’t much else without going to another city.

Imagine my excitement to find out that the National Geographic Museum was holding exhibit on the ancient Etruscan Civilization! For the non-history buffs out there, the Etruscan Civilization was an Italian peoples which inhabited roughly the area of modern day Tuscany (which is where we get the name). That area is, roughly speaking, bound by the Tiber River (and Rome) to the south, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west, and the Apennine Mountains to the north and east. The Etruscans were an important culture in Italy from about 750 BC to around 500 BC, and were an significant influence on Roman culture and history. Continue reading

Downtown, History

National Geographic Museum: Race to the End of the Earth

Photo courtesy of
‘National Geographic – Race Preview – 05-24-11 01′
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

What would you do, what would you go through, to be the first explorers to the South Pole? Would you go through months of trekking through -40F degree cold, on a strict ration of food, constantly freezing and wet, and risking death every day? If that sounds like a great time, the National Geographic has the exhibit for you!

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first men to reach the South Pole, the National Geographic Museum is hosting an exhibition entitled Race to the End of the Earth. It recounts the challenges of two explorers during their race to reach the South Pole. On a 1,800-mile journey through Antarctica in 1911, explorers Roald Amundsen of Norway and Robert Falcon Scott of Britain fought the elements and raced each other to gain the honor. The exhibit is well suited for the National Geographic, because it adds the adventure and exploration elements to a fascinating and not well known historical story.

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Downtown, Fun & Games, Special Events, The Features

Geckos: The New Cuteness?

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‘DSC_0015′
courtesy of ‘RomeTheWorld’

Opening today and running through the first week of January is a new exhibit at National Geographic. “Geckos: Tails to Toepads” features just over 15 species of live geckos of different colors, stripes, shapes, and sizes. While there are also interactive displays and a kids-oriented area, the main attraction are the self-contained terrarium-style displays with all sorts of geckos.

Some of them are pretty tough to spot, like the Satanic Leaf-tail Gecko. (There are four in the enclosure, of which I found only two.) Some are pretty “obvious” geckos, similar in appearance to the animated one on television shilling insurance. And some are just downright ugly. But all in all, they are fascinating to watch and most (if not all) are pretty darn cute – for a reptile.

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The Daily Feed

Fiona Tan Exhibit Opens

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‘Sackler Gallery’
courtesy of ‘clio1789′

Seeing any exhibit at the Sackler Gallery is an inspiring experience, but seeing Fiona Tan’s first major U.S. exhibition at the Sackler Gallery is just phenomenal. The renowned contemporary artist will be on view at the Sackler Gallery September 25 through January 16, 2011 with Fiona Tan: Rise and Fall.  The artist will be showing a collection of video and photography, “exploring the individual’s place in a world increasingly shaped by global culture”.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is located at 1050 Independence Ave, SW.  For more information contact 202-633-1000.  Admission is free.

The Daily Feed

Don’t Miss Yves Klein

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‘A Different Kind of Blue’
courtesy of ‘LaTur’

Still looking for things to do this holiday weekend?  Why not head over to the Hirshhornto check out the uber-successful Yves Klein:  With theVoid, Full Powers exhibit.  This may be your very last chance to see the work of a creative genius as the exhibit will be closing on September 12th.  You won’t want to miss this one.

The Daily Feed

Be Exhibited At Arlington Arts Center

Image Credit:  Sara Yousefnejad, Arlington Arts Center

For all local artists out there, tomorrow is your last chance to enter for a spot to be featured in a solo exhibit at the Arlington Arts Center.

Artists who “produce cutting edge contemporary art in any/all media, and who live or work in Virginia; Washington, DC; Maryland; West Virginia; Delaware; or Pennsylvania” are eligible to submit exhibition proposals.  Furthermore, all work must have been completed within the last 3 years in order to be considered.

For more information contact the Arlington Arts Center at 703-248.6800.

The Daily Feed

House of Cars Ending

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’109/365: Reserved’
courtesy of ‘Amberture’

Looking for something to do this weekend?  Well you should definitely consider heading over to see House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage at The National Building Museum.  The organization of the exhibit is fabulous and the historical significance is absolutely fascinating.  You don’t want to miss this wonderful gem before it is to late, the House of Cars exhibit closes on Sunday, July 11th.

Who knew learning about the innovation of the parking garages could be so much fun!

The National Building Museum is located at 401 F Street NW and offers free admission.

For more information call 202-272-244

Downtown, History, Special Events, We Love Arts

NatGeo Opens Up Da Vinci’s Mind

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If I say the name “Leonardo da Vinci,” what’s the first thing to pop into your mind? Most likely, thoughts of paintings such as the Mona Lisa or the Last Supper, or perhaps illustrations of his flying machine concepts. Maybe in some cases, the idea of a “Renaissance Man.” And you’d be right with all of those answers – but you’d also only be scratching the surface.

The National Geographic Museum’s latest exhibit, “Da Vinci-The Genius,” attempts to broaden that answer for you. This comprehensive traveling exhibition details the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci and will be on display from June 18 through September 12, 2010 and is made available by Grande Exhibitions, Fondazione Anthropos of Italy, and the French engineer Pascal Cotte.

“We have all heard of Leonardo da Vinci; most people think of him as the artist that painted the Mona Lisa, or maybe they heard he did flying machine drawings,” said National Geographic Museum Director Susan Norton. “But here, you can come to see full-sized models of what he designed in the 15th Century to address what he thought of as challenges, issues, and problems, and I think people will be fascinated when they come.”

She’s not wrong. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Gods of Angkor

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‘Mysterious Sackler Stairway’
courtesy of ‘andertho’

The Sackler Gallery is gearing up to open a new exhibition called Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia on May 15th.  The exhibit will be featuring 36-plus examples of bronze castings, ranging from the prehistoric period all the through the post-Angkorian period (which, if you don’t know what this means – like I didn’t, it references third century BCE to to sixteenth century CE). The exhibition will continue till January 23 and is the result of an ongoing partnership between the Freer and Sackler Galleries and the National Museum of Cambodia.

So if you want to check out art from Cambodia, and save yourself a super long plane ride – this would be the perfect exhibit for you.

The District, The Features, The Mall, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Josef Albers

Josef Albers, “Homage to the Square: Glow,” (1966). From the Hirshhorn’s collection.

“We must teach each other… education is not first giving answers but giving questions.”  – Josef Albers

Abstract art is void of narrative.  The composition often speaks only through the viewers mind.  A type of understanding through speculation, providing the sort of simple canvas that the imagination needs in order to thrive.

Josef Albers (1888-1976) was a master of the subjective canvas, an explorer of color and an ambassador for the abstract form.

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Downtown, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

First Look: the Terra Cotta Warrior Invasion

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Yesterday was the opening of “Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor” at the National Geographic Museum. A rare treat, the exhibit is on the final stop of a four-city US tour and closes on March 31, 2010.

Promotion for this visit has been going on since spring of this year. The hype is justifiable, however. This particular exhibit features the largest number of terra cotta figures to ever visit the US. Fifteen figures from the tomb of China’s First Emperor Qin Shihuangdi (221 B.C. – 210 B.C.) are in a magnificent display that spans two galleries ans 12,000 square feet.

I only had an hour this past Wednesday to visit – SmithGifford and NatGeo had a special invitation-only event for local bloggers and photographers. I was too busy shooting photographs to really absorb the whole experience, but I definitely will be heading back to soak it all in. It’s well worth the cost. And there’s a special offer for WeLoveDC readers as well – I’ll spill the beans after you browse some photos from that evening; you can decide for yourself if you want to go. Continue reading

Special Events, The Daily Feed, Tourism

National Geographic Museum: Terra Cotta Warriors

Photo courtesy of
‘Terracotta-29′
courtesy of ‘akiwitz’

You’ve probably heard of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi’s terra cotta warriors, the thousands of life-sized statues buried with him in his tomb, intended to escort the Emperor to the afterlife. Discovered in 1974, they were one of the biggest archeological finds of the 20th century.

They’re making their last US appearance right here in DC, at the National Geographic Museum. Admission is $12, and the exhibition runs November 19th through March 31. The exhibit will showcase 15 terra cotta figures from Emperor  Shihuangdi’s tomb, including nine terra cotta warriors, two musicians, a strongman, a court official, a stable attendant and a horse. Also on display will be weapons, stone armor, coins, jade ornaments, roof tiles and decorative bricks, and a bronze crane and swan.

We’re getting a full preview of the exhibit on the 18th, so look for our review shortly thereafter. In the meantime, here’s two ‘sneak preview’ photos provided to us by National Geographic… Continue reading

Essential DC, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

The Strange Comfort of Brian Jungen

People's Flag

Opening today at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is a new exhibition that will run through August 8, 2010. Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort is a major exhibit showcasing the critically acclaimed works of the Canadian-based artist and is his first exhibition organized by a Native American museum. Jungen’s work has been on display around the world, including the Casey Kaplan Gallery in New York, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in Quebec, and the Witte de With in the Netherlands.

The NMAI’s first solo exhibition since its opening in 2004, Strange Comfort is exactly that. The stunning “Crux” is your first view of Jungen’s work – recognizable from the crocodile piece show in the recent ads around town – and only continues to intrigue and inspire when you visit the main gallery on the third floor.

Jungen, of Dunne-za First Nations and Swiss-Canadian ancestry, explores several themes through his art. The use of every-day objects to create Indian cultural icons is something very different, born from Native ingenuity of crafting one object out of another, a common practice with many First Nation people. Jungen commented in the NMAI’s press release that he grew up watching his Dunne-za relatives recycle everything from car parts to shoe boxes. “It was a kind of salvaging born out of practical and economic necessity, and it greatly influenced how I see the world as an artist.”

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