National Gallery of Awesome

After three days of one or two of my guys home sick, all of my kids headed off to school today (some more successfully than others who—and I won’t point fingers or name names here *coughJackcough*—had to be physically shoved onto a school bus this morning), so my mom and I headed off to the National Gallery of Art.


My mom and I briefly considered going to the Newseum, figuring that whichever museum we didn’t go to today, I could come back and visit later by myself. Then it occurred to me that looking at art is way more boring than learning about journalism, so it is better to go to the art museum with a buddy.


It turns out that art is not as boring as I had assumed. The museum was amazing. Also, I learned a bunch of stuff. Without further ado:

Things I Learned Today at the Art Museum

1. Modern camera flashes don’t damage art, so you can use flash photography all you want at this museum, but even so, I was too intimidated to do so. I also learned that there is exactly ONE painting at the National Gallery that you are not allowed to photograph.

I discovered this because I was going to take a photo to demonstrate that although folks such as Botticelli are badass when it comes to painting, they are not so good with the naming of the paintings.

I did NOT take this photograph.

The guard didn’t know why this particular painting is non-photographable, but after putting some thought into it, he agreed to let me take a picture of the sign.

2. The National Gallery of Art has a “12-Inch Rule.” As in, “Ma’am, you need to be at least 12 inches away from the art at all times.” Honestly, it was only a matter of time before (a) a guard yelled at me, or (b) I sneezed on an El Greco. I’m glad it was the first, especially since he didn’t really yell.

3. If you have neglected to bring your ruler (or your Stimeyland tape measure) to the museum with you, the National Gallery has very helpfully created a marble border around the outside of each gallery so you know how close you cannot be.

4. Offering my mom $100 is not enough to entice her to climb into a little niche in the rotunda and pose like a statue. Her lame excuse included some far fetched concerns about alarms and security guards.


Fortunately, Photoshop has eliminated the need for people in my life to humiliate themselves in public. I can do that without their permission now, thank you very much.

She wouldn’t do a more flamboyant pose, damn her.

5. There is a lot of modern art that I don’t get.

Why? Why, dammit, WHY?

Here it is, without me in front of it, in case you need the entire blank canvas to better judge this “painting” by Jo Baer, which is aptly titled, “Untitled.”

Two is better than one!

I just don’t get it. I mean, I get Rothko. I tolerate Pollock. I don’t fucking get the blank canvas.

6. It takes more than 45 minutes to drive from the National Gallery of Art to my house. This is important to know if you are going to have to pick your children up from the bus stop at a specified time. This is double important to know if your children come home from school on two different buses. This is TRIPLE important to know if one of your kids won’t be allowed to get off of the bus unless you or someone authorized to get your child off of the bus is home when the bus arrives. (Don’t worry. All the munchkins are okay and were collected in a safe manner. My neighbors and bus driver are awesome.)

I have grand plans to share my thoughts on the art we saw in a future post sure to alienate art lovers, academics and possibly the Dutch. It is, however, extremely likely that I will completely never get around to it, so don’t worry too much if you fall into one of those categories.

Oh, there is one more thing I learned. Art is kind of amazing. It is one thing to look at a print of a painting, or to browse an art book, but to really look at an actual painting up close—the brushstrokes and the textures—is phenomenal.*

* “Up close” = 12 inches

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