We Green DC

It’s a Girl! The Crane Cometh

Photo courtesy of
‘Rare White-Naped Crane Hatches National Zoo Conservation and Research Center’
courtesy of ‘Smithsonian’s National Zoo’
Okay, boys and girls — it’s time for a little talk about the birds and the bees. Well, the birds anyway.

The good news is that there’s a new baby girl at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va. — a rare white-naped crane that’s an endangered species because of destruction of its native habitat, wetlands in northeast China. Female hatchlings have been few and far between in recent years, which puts the population at further risk.

Therefore, like children of royalty, this girl came peeping into the world with lots of responsibility on her shoulders, that of “the most genetically important hatchling in the North American White-Naped Crane Species Survival Program.” She can help boost the captive population of the endangered species. No pressure, and I hope she wants a gazillion kids.

The bad news is she’s got some whacked family relations, great fodder for a reality TV show or at least Dr. Phil.
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The Features

On The Water: American History’s Latest

Model Tradeship 2
Model Tradeship 2 courtesy of Me

Right next to the exhibit on the first floor dedicated to America’s transportation systems is the National Museum of American History‘s latest exhibit: On the Water. As much as transportation over land has changed the United States, the maritime elements of our economy has done the same. Divided into seven slices of time, some of which overlap, the exhibit focuses on the coastal and riverfront parts of the United States from 1450 through to the present. Read on for a preview.

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The Daily Feed

A Photographic heads-up

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘volcanojw’

If you’re a photographer planning to submit anything to the Smithsonian’s current photo contest, make sure you’re okay with the fine print. Carolyn Wright of the excellent Photo Attorney blog makes  a habit of pointing out the fine print in photo contest agreements and she observes that the one for Smithsonian Magazine requires you to surrender full use of the photo in perpetuity, including for their commercial purposes. That includes derivative works, so you could end up in a composite or have your shot radically edited.

There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re cool with it, but realize going in that you’re going to receive between $0 and $500 in exchange for their right to use and/or ‘remix’ that photo, forever. You’ll still own it though, unlike if you submit it to Oprah.

The Daily Feed, The Mall

Meet Our Latest Museum

Photo courtesy of afagen
Freelon Adjaye Bond 2, courtesy of afagen

Earlier today, WaPo broke the news regarding the newest – and last – Smithsonian museum to be built on the National Mall. The winning design (see the above photo) for the new National Museum of African American History and Culture belongs to the architectural team from Freelon Adjaye Bond / Smith Group. The group is also designing the new DC public library in Anacostia and has worked on several other Smithsonian projects, including the (in my opinion) outstanding National Museum of the American Indian.

The six finalists have been on display at the Smithsonian Castle since March 27; the winning design was announced this morning.

The new museum is expected to be finished in 2015 at a cost of $500 million and will be built on Constitution between 14th and 15th streets NW, near the Monument. Currently, the museum is in a private phase of fundraising, and half the cost will be funded by Congress.

Essential DC, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, The Features, Tourism

Tourism: National Zoo


Pandamania! by flickr user needlessspaces

The National Zoo was the second major DC tourism spot that I hit after I moved here. The first was the Washington Monument. Our Zoo is great – it’s my second favorite zoo I’ve ever been to (second only to the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. No I’m not joking, that zoo is phenomenal.) so when my parents came into town to visit, we decided to make the journey.

It sort of feels wrong, you know? Just walking right in without paying. Put aside the guilt and it’s actually a fabulous feeling. It allows people to come back and back again, and it seems like there are people who truly take advantage. As we were walking in a runner in full workout garb jogged past – what a great run! Aside from dodging all the bumbling people and strollers, you’d have incredibly entertaining scenery and quite a steep hill workout. Envious.

As you enter the zoo you’re faced with starting your zoo tour by heading down towards the pandas on the the Asia walk, or going down the entire hill and doing everything on the way back up. I don’t have an opinion either way. But I do recommend that you print out a map before you go – available on the zoo web site, you can save yourself money by printing it out on your own. Otherwise they charge for a take-with-you map. Fair, I think, since entry is free. So off you go to meet and greet all the animals. Continue reading

Essential DC, The Daily Feed

Extended Hours at Smithsonian


Increasing revenue is the name of the game these days; even our free museums aren’t immune.

According to WaPo, the Smithsonian will be extending its hours into the evening during the summer. Tourists and residents alike can enjoy an extra two hours a day (until 7:30 p.m.) at the Natural Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History and the ever-popular National Air and Space Museum until Labor Day.

The Smithsonian has been challenged with cuts due to declining endowment revenue and is hoping the extra few hours will result in increased retail and donation streams.

Special Events, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Comic Art Indigene


Jolene Nenibah Yazzie (Navajo), "Beautiful Shield" 2006. Digital print. Courtesy of the artist.

Upstairs in the intimate Sealaska Gallery at the National Museum of the American Indian is a fascinating exhibition on the intersection between Native culture and a uniquely modern art form. “Comic Art Indigene,” now through May 31st, highlights over 35 artworks of various mediums from the earliest rock art and clay figurines through to classic comic strip panels. Containing images both humorous and provocative, it’s well worth a visit.

If you’re interested in the history of how traditional methods of storytelling evolved into using comic art as a means of Native expression, the beginning of the exhibit clearly outlines this process. I just urge you to make sure you move beyond that initial area to the back walls and pay careful attention to the incredible pieces by Diego Romero, Mateo Romero, Jolene Nenibah Yazzie, and Rose Bean Simpson. These artists collectively pack a powerful graphic suckerpunch.

Jolene Nenibah Yazzie (Navajo) was a skater girl in high school, and her childhood inspiration was Wonder Woman. Both facets are evident in her supersaturated color contrast and strong female images. I loved “Beautiful Shield” – reminding me of a bit of Patrick Nagel (though these women could kick Nagel’s to the curb!). If I could own one piece of artwork from the show, this would be it. Continue reading

The Features, Weekend Flashback

Weekend Flashback: 2/6 – 2/8/09

Photo courtesy of blipars {busy}
Fast and Furious, courtesy of blipars {busy}

Can’t believe it’s Monday already? Hey, we hear you. After what may well be the beginning of spring (or just a prelude), DC experienced a gorgeous weekend that erased our memories of the chilly weather last week.

Our photos of the weekend ranged from ice skating in Arlington to the DC Car Show to a visit by Jack Bauer to our region – which is a good thing, considering that Jack can’t seem to keep his facts straight about our beloved hometown. You swung by the Botanical Gardens and lingered at night to grab some great evening shots. So let’s enjoy, shall we?

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The Daily Feed, The Mall

American History Museum Reopening Day: First Look

Above, some fuzzy cellphone camera video of my walk around the newly reopened Smithsonian National Museum of American History. A lot of the museum off to the sides has stayed mostly the same, but the change to the central chamber is startling. Alas, the old-fashioned ice cream parlor is gone, as well as the Information Age Exhibit with its Stephen Hansen carousel.

The District, The Mall

National Museum of American History Reopens Tomorrow

Star Spangled Sculpture 2
Star Spangled Sculpture by tbridge

It was sad to me, back in 2006, when the National Museum of American History (NMAH) closed its doors. My wife and I, when first we met, had a very delightful time wandering its halls when she had first come down from Pittsburgh. It’s a special place, for us. I knew that they were working to make it a brighter, more modern place, having not undergone significant renewal since its opening in 1964. It was due for a renovation. Tomorrow morning, at 9am, the ribbon will be cut, and the NMAH will again be open to the public, a combination of new and old, of historic talismans and of high technology.

Yesterday, at the re-dedication of the museum, there was no shortage of fanfare and pomp. The Army District of Washington’s fife and drum corps was present, a brass quintet from the Army Band played, and one of their vocalists sang the national anthem. The President gave a short speech on the importance of the Smithsonian, and what their collection represents in terms of national ideals. President Bush and the First Lady have arranged for the handwritten White House copy of the Gettysburg Address to be on display with the Museum until early January, and you can stand just inches from the famous text, handwritten by President Lincoln. Around the corner is the book in which that speech appeared, as it was part of a fundraising effort in 1864 for the Union Army. Also included was the original copy of the Star Spangled Banner, in Francis Scott Key’s own hand. Continue reading

The Daily Feed, The Mall

Natural History Ocean Hall Time Lapse

Via DC Metrocentric, we find that the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a Flickr stream, to which they have posted a a time lapse video of construction progress on their upcoming Ocean Hall:

The Ocean Hall opens in September 2008. Being an avid scuba diver and admirer of all forms of marine life (in beauty and taste), I look forward to this eagerly.

Adventures, The Mall

Newseum: Worth $22 per Ticket?

Photo by v1rotate

While Carl is bitching about the beer prices at Nationals Stadium, I’m wondering about prices at another DC attraction: The new Newseum.

In the land of free Smithsonian museums, the Newseum is charging $20 per adult ticket with Carl’s favorite – a $2 convenience fee for those that dare buy online.

So at $22 per ticket, is the Newseum worth it?

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Music, Night Life, Penn Quarter, The Daily Feed

Listen to the Summer Wind in the Kogod Courtyard Tonight

Feeling a little jazzy? Not sure where to head after work? In the mood for a little culture with your wine? Then head over to the Smithsonian American Art Museum on 8th and F Streets, NW.

The museum cafe offers a limited selection of bottled beer and wine in addition to sodas, water and coffee drinks. There are plenty of tables and seats throughout the glass enclosed courtyard with room to spare for dancing. The swing band, Joker’s Wild, will perform popular tunes by old blue eyes, his pal Dean Martin, jazz queen Ella Fitzgerald, and Bing Crosby.

While the band plays from 5-8:00pm, the museum exhibits are open to the public until 7pm. So take time to roam through the Kate Hepburn and HipHop Portraiture exhibits.

Special Events, The Daily Feed, The Mall, We Love Arts

Opening Tomorrow: Jim Henson’s Fantastic World

Metro Ad for Jim Henson exhibit

Organized by SITES and The Jim Henson Legacy, the traveling exhibit Jim Henson’s Fantastic World opens tomorrow (Saturday July 12th) at the S. Dillon Ripley Center International Gallery, featuring artifacts of the much-missed imagination and visual thinking that brought us the muppets, Yoda, and The Dark Crystal. The Ripley Center can be a bit hard to find if you’ve never been there before, as it’s mostly underground; just look for the copper-domed kiosk sitting between the Castle and the Freer Gallery (map). I’m hoping to see one of my boyhood crushes there, Kira the Gelfling. Rawr.