Dupont Kalorama Museum Walk

Every year in early June, the Dupont-Kalorama Museums Consortium holds a museum walk weekend: a Saturday and Sunday of free admission to museums, special activities, and a shuttle to transport visitors from site to site.

This year was the first in which I was in town for the weekend and able to attend, though only on Sunday, since I work on Saturdays. I had been looking forward to today with much excitement.

My classmate from the Museum Education Program, Garwin, and I exited the Dupont Circle Metro around 1:20 and began our museum adventure. There are ten museums on the walk; we hoped to visit two or three.

We first went to the Phillips Collection (I had been before; Garwin had not). Garwin, an artist himself, greeted works of art by the artist’s name (“Hi, Calder!”).

A work by Alexander Calder in the Phillips Collection

The work that most affected me was one we almost missed, hanging from the ceiling of the museum’s cafe: Lee Boroson’s Lunar Bower. According to the wall text, the piece suggests “an atmosphere of lunar romance.” (As we left the museum, Garwin and I discussed what the term “lunar romance” might mean.) I liked standing under the bunches of colorful stretchy delicate fabrics because it made me feel like I was under the sea, surrounded by coral reefs, evoking a longing I’ve had since childhood.

Lunar Bower

After the Phillips Collection, we headed to Anderson House, where room after opulent room never failed to impress us. The house once belonged to Larz Anderson, a wealthy diplomat who collected art (including a Buddha for every nook and cranny in his enormous mansion), and now belongs to the Society of the Cincinnati, “the nation’s oldest patriotic organization.” Today, the Society of the Cincinnati educates about the American Revolution, though Anderson House itself is so full of treasures that it could be used for educational experiences on any number of additional topics: Buddhism, art history, architecture, lifestyles of diplomats in the early twentieth century, etc.

In one room is an exhibit on the photography of the house by Frances Benjamin Johnston, one of the first acclaimed female American photographers. A panel includes this quote from her:

When you build a house, you make a record of yourself, and experts in houses can tell by the house you build and live in what kind of person you are …. The story of houses is the story of the people that made them.

Like Johnston, I was inspired to take numerous photographs at Anderson House. Below are some of the best ones I took today:

Garwin and Anderson House, reflected in the shallow pool in the garden

A ceiling in Anderson House

Another ceiling

One more ceiling

Garwin and I had also very much hoped to visit the Textile Museum, but after a nice long leisurely late lunch at Pizzeria Paradiso (which gave a 10% discount to anyone with the museum walk brochure), we realized we’d run out of time (especially since Garwin accidentally took one of the restaurant’s butter knives among his stack of museum brochures, and we had to go back and return it). We do both want to see the museum’s current exhibits that address the relationship between textiles and the environmental cause. Though I have been to the museum before, I am especially interested in these new exhibits.



About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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