Four score and seven years ago

Washington Travel Blog

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Christmas at NMAH

After coming up from the Smithsonian Metro station, I hurried through the grey day to the newly-reopened Museum of American History.  Inside I paused to take in the Christmas decorations and glance at the entrance to the gallery for the Star Spangled Banner.  However, my main focus was directed towards a small gallery down the hall to the right.  Very simple lettering--Gettysburg Address--announced the room and its contents.

Only five copies of the address in Lincoln's handwriting exist.  The earliest ones belonged to his secretaries.  The one on loan to the Smithsonian was a later copy.  Lincoln wrote it neatly because its purpose was to be copied into a book that would be sold to raise charity money then.  At one point it was owned by the Cuban ambassador to the United States.  In 1957 he donated it to the White House, and normally this copy hangs in the Lincoln Bedroom there.  However, until Jan. 4 the general public can view it in the dimly lit Albert H Small Documents Gallery.

A few information placards on the wall explain the history related to the address: the battle, the dedication ceremony, the other copies.  The document itself rests in a simple glass case in the middle.  Ten years ago, I recited the Gettysburg Address at a Memorial Day ceremony. Today I was in awe to read those famous words in Lincoln's own hand from over 140 years ago.

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Washington Monument (complete with red blinky lights, just not in this shot)

Following a suggestion from andy99 (thanks!), my next major stop was the Botanic Gardens near the Capitol.  I have been here several times before including at least once in the winter.  However, I had never visited during their Winter Wonderland season.  I am so glad I finally took the time for it!  The garden court is transformed by dozens of red and white plants sheltering miniatures of the important sites around DC.  Each miniature is created from an acrylic foam board base and then covered in plant materials.  Here's a run down of some of the building materials found on the structures.

US Supreme Court: pinecones for the roof shingles, corncob husks for the clothing of its statues

Library of Congress: acorns

US Capitol: willow tree branches for the columns, beach nuts

US Botanic Garden Conservatory: horse chestnut bark for the limestone blocks, cinnamon bark

The Castle: sycamore tree leaves for the shingles, shelf fungi for the windowsills

Washington Monument: mosses

Jefferson Memorial: gourds for the big dome, birch bark for the vest of the Jefferson statue

White House: honeysuckle for the porch columns, seargrass

Lincoln Memorial: flower petals for the eagle wings, lichen for Lincoln's beard and hair

 

I found the entire display just amazing.

Rapunzel
  (So did the families trying to take Christmas photos of their kids in front of some of the flowers or buildings...)  I couldn't get over the details and the amount of time involved (600 hours on the Capitol building alone).  I think I found the Supreme Court building to be one of my favorites due to the tiny statues.

After wandering through the garden court, I entered a Winter Wonderland of trains and fantasy.  The wing was divided into various "hamlets."  First up, I saw Fairy Tale Trails featuring Rapunzel and the Three Little Pigs.  Blue poinsettias hinted at cooler environs and soon Santa's Village appeared with its workshop and elf quarters.  Secret Mountain required adults to duck but I loved peeking into three little alcoves revealing little rooms (a bedroom, a crystal cave, a living room).

  Caterpillar Garden with a very creative train waited on the other side of the mountain.  Gremlin Corner was the final hamlet, populated with imaginary creatures created from plants.  Above our heads trains whirred past.  Watching over everything was Castle Mountain, complete with a horse and royal carriage.

I finished my visit to DC with lunch at Union Station and then a journey up top to see the Christmas tree from Norway and the display of a Norwegian Christmas.  I liked the added trace of the trolls :)

Christmas at NMAH
Christmas at NMAH
Washington Monument (complete with…
Washington Monument (complete wit…
Rapunzel
Rapunzel
Christmas tree at NMAH
Christmas tree at NMAH
entrance to Star Spangled Banner G…
entrance to Star Spangled Banner …
Capitol
Capitol
tree, Capitol
tree, Capitol
some construction
some construction
The Botanic Gardens, what a grey d…
The Botanic Gardens, what a grey …
the Castle
the Castle
poinsettia on the lamppost
poinsettia on the lamppost
Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson
Jefferson
back of the Lincoln Memorial
back of the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln
Lincoln
White House
White House
ceiling decoration
ceiling decoration
in front of the tree
in front of the tree
Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens
glass dome
"glass" dome
on top of the Capitol
on top of the Capitol
Capitol
Capitol
in front of the Capitol
in front of the Capitol
beautiful flower
beautiful flower
Supreme Court
Supreme Court
Castle Mountain
Castle Mountain
Rapunzels tower
Rapunzel's tower
windmill
windmill
Little Old Lady in a Shoe with tra…
Little Old Lady in a Shoe with tr…
Three Little Pigs
Three Little Pigs
the wolf
the wolf
arctic poinsettia
arctic poinsettia
pagoda
pagoda
crystal cave
crystal cave
lighthouse
lighthouse
caterpillar train
caterpillar train
back of Castle Mountain
back of Castle Mountain
soldier
soldier
gremlin
gremlin
circus train
circus train
another gremlin
another gremlin
royal carriage
royal carriage
Norwegian Christmas Tree
Norwegian Christmas Tree
flags
flags
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