Friday, July 23, 2010

July 22, 2010: Washington - The Laundry, Two Ill-Fated Attempts at the Museum of Women in the Arts, The Library, American Art, The Zoo

Time for laundry again. This time I logged in to the website to check laundry usage: - it's strangely entrancing - machines in use are shown in red, vibrating; occupied but idle machines are shown in yellow; free machines are white. It's laid out according to the actual set-up in the room, you can view it from multiple angles. Rolling over a machine tells you how much time is left in the cycle. It's a little virtual world of laundry - it reminds me of Sim City. I suspect I may have to resist the temptation to check out the laundry activity when I'm not actually using the facilities.

In the afternoon a bus trip downtown, in a fateful attempt to visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts. According to the map it would be a quick walk from the bus stop along H Street. But by the time I had walked along H to 9th St I knew I had gone to far. Since I don't like to look like a clueless tourist by opening maps on city streets, I decided to walk down 9th to the Martin Luther King Jr library which I had visited earlier in the week - I could discreetly check my map there, while also browsing for more books. After locating the museum (I had passed it, but it was in one of those complex intersections where 3 major roads crossed each other) I walked back. Through the heat. To discover that it cost $10. What to do? There are so many other free museums here, and I only had at best an hour and a half to look around. I decided to walk back to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Kitty-corner from the library. In the heat. Sigh.

However, I had 45 minutes of enjoying a look back at Christo and Jean-Claude's Running Fence project, which I hadn't had time for when I visited earlier in the week. The controversy and furor this project caused was rather extraordinary (environmental assessments, town hall hearings, legal action), and there was a good film about it. In a weird coincidence, ideas I'd had earlier that day for using topographical maps as inspiration for ring designs was confirmed by seeing a large-scale topographical model of the landscape for the fence - the markings where rivers have carved a channel are just what I was thinking of.

In the evening we strolled up the street to the zoo, which was open late for an outdoor evening concert. Although we didn't listen to the music for long, it was a nice opportunity to enjoy the zoo grounds after hours (it seems that only the cut-rate animals get to stay out late - an emu, prairie dogs, turtles). We caused a turtle frenzy when we walked up to the edge of the pond - someone must be feeding them on the sly...

Photos: the completed Running Fence 1976 (photo Jean-Claude, Smithsonian website); construction of the fence 1976 (photo Wolfgang Volz, Smithsonian website)


  1. hey julie,
    i would love to see some photos of your adventures.

  2. They're on the way - I've got a backlog of photos to upload!