The Wonder of Miniature

Washington Travel Blog

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National Museum of the American Indian

When I was little, I loved to go out in the backyard where we had a huge oak tree.  I would pick up twigs, acorns, and tiny pebbles and build miniature houses amongst the roots of this century-old tree.  I even took little toys out to my natural village and created stories for the characters.

As an adult I no longer build these miniature villages but the artisans at the Botanic Gardens do which I think would be a fantastically fun job (if you had that skill!).

The Botanic Garden had two entrances set up: one for the main area and another one for the special train exhibit.  I chose to see the main area first.  Like last year the entrance hall had miniatures of DC spread throughout it, the Washington Monument and US Capitol building in the prominant spaces.

Capitol Hill neighborhood
  I noticed other designs from last year such as the Lincoln Memorial (seated mini Lincoln), Library of Congress, Jefferson Memorial (with a mini Jefferson statue standing on the inside), and US Supreme Court.  However, I also noticed new sites or at least ones that did not stick out from last year.  A little residential Capitol Hill neighborhood nestled beneath a large Christmas tree while the National Museum of the American Indian across the way added more culture.  The Obama girls in the White House were hinted at with a little playground in front of their home.  I marveled at how well these models resembled the original structures.  The planning and care that goes into them is immense; over 600 hours to create the largest one (Capitol building) alone.
poinsettia close-up

I then took a wander through several other lush galleries in the Gardens, my usual visit.  I took my time near the poinsettias since they were a seasonal flower plus I also feel a connection to the Christmas flower since its origins can be traced to Mexico.  It was fun to look at the varieties with their background information.

I slipped outside, my eyes briefly falling on the Capitol building, so close to its organic model inside the Gardens.  As the rain slowly spit at me, I was grateful to only have a short walk to the other entrance.  I stepped into another miniature wonderland based on reality but a reality spread across the world rather than just the Mall: thirteen man-made structures that display amazing architecture from five continents.

Taj Mahal

The miniature wonders did not follow any geographical or chronological order, the sites just flowed along, drawing the visitors from one view to the next.  The Lighthouse of Alexandria subtly introduced the theme, its narrow height almost blending in with the wooden backdrop.  Easter Island figures hinted at mystery, the statues keeping a silent, stoic watch.  Across the path the Sphinx breathed of ancient wisdom, nearly dynamic compared to the triangular pyramid next to it.  Petra with its stone columns entranced me (hope to see it someday!).  The Great Wall of China marched along the side of the wall, little watchtowers hinting to its protective purpose.  Compared to the stocky Wall, the white Taj Mahal seemed almost fairy-like.

Eiffel Tower
  I smiled at the Eiffel Tower as it rose high towards the ceiling.  In this setting nothing seemed odd about using natural wood to represent a monolith of steel.  Around the corner from the Eiffel Tower, I encountered the first wonder that I could not recognize.  Opening my program I read about the Boudhanath Stupa in Nepal.  The bright colors of its prayer flags and dome contrasted sharply with the neutral tones of the other sites so far along the path.  I cut through a little tunnel that housed three tiny rooms that could have belonged to a fairy.  Outside of the tunnel I looked up to a castle fit for such a fairy.  Not one of the architectural wonders, the castle still stole the spotlight as it spiraled towards the ceiling, its spires level with hot air balloons.
Tikal
  Back down on ground level the White Heron Castle conjured up sensations of tranquility with its waterfall in the background, the building supposedly responding a bird on the edge of flight.  Around another corner and the mood shifted from Japan to Central America with a narrow, stepped pyramid from the Mayan civilization: Tikal.  A green caterpillar train zipping through the foliage reduced an aura of mystery from this ancient site.  Against the wall Machu Picchu climbed upwards, a link to another ancient culture from the Americas.  Opposite the stepped structures minarets and domes reshaped Hagia Sophia and its Byzantine style.

Despite the slightly gross weather, I trekked across the street to see the Capitol Christmas tree up close.  This year Wyoming contributed an Engelmann Spruce from the Bridger Teton National Forest.  Decorated in cowboys, boots, and mustangs, the 67-foot tree proudly displayed the Christmas season.

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National Museum of the American In…
National Museum of the American I…
Capitol Hill neighborhood
Capitol Hill neighborhood
poinsettia close-up
poinsettia close-up
Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
Tikal
Tikal
pink flower
pink flower
White House playset
White House playset
poinsettia wreath
poinsettia wreath
Capitol building
Capitol building
statue on top of Capitol
statue on top of Capitol
white poinsettia
white poinsettia
Botanic Garden
Botanic Garden
Pyramid
Pyramid
Lighthouse at Alexandria
Lighthouse at Alexandria
Sphinx
Sphinx
Thomas the Train
Thomas the Train
Easter Island figures
Easter Island figures
Petra
Petra
Great Wall
Great Wall
Great Wall watchtower
Great Wall watchtower
Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath Stupa
a wood spirit
a wood spirit
hot air balloon
hot air balloon
fantasy castle
fantasy castle
White Heron Castle
White Heron Castle
White Heron Castle with shimmer of…
White Heron Castle with shimmer o…
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia dome in sepia tone
Hagia Sophia dome in sepia tone
castle from opposite angle
castle from opposite angle
Capitol and tree
Capitol and tree
Cowboy State
Cowboy State
Joy
Joy
elk
elk
Washington
photo by: b93sp