Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No Flash Photography

This past weekend my close friend, Joy, from Atlanta came to visit. She hadn’t been to the area in years and wanted to see the monuments and museums in Washington. So, on Friday we took a day trip into D.C.

The last time I went to the Mall was about six years ago, so I was eager to see the sites. We took the Metro into town. A straight shot on the orange line to our destination, The Smithsonian. Upon ascending the escalator to the Mall, I noticed every third person had a camera.

Our first stop: Smithsonian Institute Building – The Castle. It provided information on all D.C. area Smithsonian museums, a history lesson on James Smithson and a clean bathroom.

Me: We need a game plan so we don’t wander around aimlessly and waste time. I’m getting a map.

Joy: Do you know who James Smithson is?

Me: No.

Joy: He started all of this, right? So, does the Smithsonian Institute consist of all the museums or just this one?

Me: I think all of them. It tells you over there. I have to go to the bathroom.

Joy: I’m going to take some pictures.

Next on the list: The National Archives. The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights among others are housed in this distinguished building. A steady stream of people flowed through security and up the stairs to the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. Cameras flashed at every turn.

Joy: I can’t believe the nerve of some people. There are signs on every corner saying No Flash Photography.

Me: I guess they don’t care.

Joy: But it ruins the documents.

Me: I know. It’s wrong.

Joy: It’s bull shit! All the flashes over time will damage their integrity. It’s the Declaration of Independence for Christ’s sake.

Me: I know. I agree with you.

Joy: Well, I’m just saying, if they don’t know how to turn off their flashes then they shouldn’t take a picture. That’s why I’m not taking one.

Me: Are you ready to move on now? We still have a lot to see.

Joy: Yeah, let’s go.

Final destination: National Gallery of Art. After five minutes of feeling overwhelmed from our initial attempt to walk around the museum, we rented an audio tour. It is a genius idea to learn about the history of the museum and art and provide direction without the annoying tour guide. I highly recommend it. The only downside is the size and weight of the audio device. Think cordless phone circa 1995 with a five pound battery and a strap to put around your arm or neck. I advise against hanging it around your neck unless you want a crick that lasts the rest of the day and well into the next with three Motrin every six hours as the only remedy.

We made our way through the different galleries enjoying the permanent collection until we came upon one of the current exhibits.

Joy: It’s huge.

Me: It’s Edouard Manet’s masterpiece Ragpicker. It’s one of the current exhibits and on loan from the Norton Simon Foundation in California. It says it’s from a series of figural compositions that Manet painted in… What’s wrong?

Joy: That man wouldn’t get outta my way so I could take a picture. What an ass! He gave me a dirty look and just stood there. Jerk! I don’t know what’s wrong with people. Anyway, I wiggled my way in and got the picture.

Me: Ok. It was painted in the 1860’s and inspired by… Now what?

Joy: It’s that man again. He just whispered something to that woman and pointed at me.

Me: I don’t know what his problem is. My neck is starting to hurt.

Joy: Screw him.

Me: Are you ready to move on now? We still have a lot to hear.

Joy: Yeah, let’s go.

Me: Oh my God Joy, look (as we exited the area I pointed to a small sign on the door frame of the gallery that read: No Flash Photography).

Joy: Shit! Are you kidding?

Me: You know flashes ruin the integrity of the paintings.

Joy: I know! Crap, crap, crap. Do you think anyone noticed?


Joy: Do you?

Me: No.

Joy: Neither do I.

Joy: Oh, look it’s a Renoir let’s go listen.

Me: Do you have any Motrin?

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