Friday, February 26, 2016

Renwick Gallery

Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than adventuring alone with four kids. Even when it doesn't go "well," I still feel a sense of pride. But fortunately, Monday did go well.

 When we pulled up to the public parking garage in DC, I discovered it was valet, which is always a little upsetting. Have you seen the inside of my van? I could paint a picture for you, one complete with banana peels, apple cores, spilled coffee and plenty of runaway trail mix, but I think we've all seen enough grimy mom-mobiles to get the idea. While trying to strap Alamae into the stroller and shove our things into the bag I brought, I discovered that Arlo took off his shoes and that the van, with the shoes, was gone. Luckily the attendant very graciously collected the shoes from the car, and we went on our way with nary another hitch.

We walked to the Renwick Gallery, which I have been wanting to go to since seeing it pop up over and over again on my Instagram feed. It seemed to me like everyone in the DC area had been but me. Its popularity since it installed the Wonder exhibit has actually been its greatest detractor. Strollers aren't allowed during weekends, and I heard that the lines were painfully long. However, on Monday morning, the crowds were thin and the kids had time and space to explore the installations in the manner they are designed to be.

Truthfully, I haven't taken my kids to that many art museums. But this exhibit was perfect. The nine site specific installations were built from all sorts of surprising materials: index cards, marbles, tires, and nets. The kids spent ample time in each place, but were excited to move on to the next. While Sena and I probably could have spent even longer in each space, the boys allowed us enough time to soak in magic of these pieces. If you haven't been, you need to go. (The second floor closes in May. The first floor in July.)

Like I said, I felt thoroughly accomplished. And also inspired. To go and do. Maybe even to create. But definitely to explore.

* Also, if you have any thoughts on good art museums between here and Boston, please let me know. The kids loved the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, and I want to take them to the Hirshorn. If there are some hidden gems, I want to know about them. 

The morning ended with food trucks and take home fancy donuts. Because you can't leave Southern Maryland and not take advantage of the variety that exists in the great wide world beyond these small towns and suburban strip malls. 


  1. Hi,

    I love your post on the Renwick exhibition; I’m glad y’all saw it! And so I’m going to throw out (shamelessly tout) some other Smithsonian art exhibition ideas that I think the kids will like:

    Sackler Gallery: One of my favorites now on exhibit is “Filthy Lucre.” Artist Darren Waterston took the fabulous Peacock Room (in the Freer) and deconstructed it. The Freer is closed for renovation, so you can’t walk through the original Peacock Room right now, but it’s okay: “Filthy Lucre” is also a room that you can walk though and get the history of Whistler’s relationship with his patron and their falling out, which is what “Filthy Lucre” is all about. And what Whistler made clear in the original. Here’s a short piece with a GIF—-part of our Snapshot series-—where I wrote about it:

    Also at the Sackler, opening March 12 and running through January 2017, is the Turquoise Market: It will be an active marketplace like that in Old Kabul, Afghanistan. Sounds very cool…

    Hirshhorn: Susan Philipz multi-media exhibition with audio. I haven’t seen it yet, but others here liked it a lot. There are several installations going up on the Hirshhorn’s walls, but my favorite is one that’s been up for a couple of years: Barbara Kruger’s “Belief+Doubt.” Lower level.

    National Portrait Gallery: And another of my favorites: The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition exhibition. This is opening March 12, and this will be the third Outwin I’ve been to. I’ve been blown away by some of these pieces—portraiture is not dull—and they are done in all kinds of media: video, string, rice(!). It will be on exhibit for about a year. It’s just wonderful. I think the kids would enjoy both American Art and the Portrait Gallery (Gallery Place Metro; they share a building).

    Most important!: If you’re down on the Mall, drop by the Castle. Give me a call or tell one of the security guards to call me, and I’ll come down and show you around the Castle. Also, if you come in the spring, you’ll see all the pink saucer magnolias blooming in the Castle garden.


  2. that gallery looks incredible! accomplished... that is a really good word for the feeling. i know it too. i haven't taken my four to as many places lately, but i always feel quite proud of them, and myself, each time i do.