Oh, look! Minerva has come down to bestow some knowledge upon you, frail mortal! Try to look happy about it. The Latin inscription says: “Not unwilling, Minerva raises a monument more lasting than bronze.” It’s from Ars Poetica by Horace. If this doesn’t convince you of the hubris of Congress, nothing will.
In Which Brooke is Continually Frustrated at the Cool Things She’s Can’t Photograph
Yes, I realize I have a problem. Pfffft- what’s the point of visiting the main reading room of the Library of Congress if you can’t pop a million flash bulbs at it?
[scuffs foot in dust] At least the entryway was spectacular enough to merit a few zillion snapshots.
MORE ARCHITECTURAL CEILING MADNESS!
I’m serious, if you didn’t think Congress was a wee bit full of itself, geez. This isn’t even the library — it’s the LOBBY! Just how many frescoes does one lobby need?
The LIC is insane. And very important, at least from a librarianship perspective. Those of you who fear that the U.S. is in decline, rest assured that we still rule the global roost when it comes to library cataloging.
[Below: Jeffrey and Eleanor slump exhaustedly on a bench whilst nymphs prance in their midst]
Is it just me, or does the below image look like Apollo is giving someone a pie? Surely it is a Pie of Wisdom.
I, for one, was quite taken with the quotes about books and reading tucked here and there under the windows. Yes, I took the time to look up the sources for you, YOU’RE WELCOME.
— Francis Bacon
I was ready to guess Shakespeare on this one, but no: Milton.
— Philip Sydney, from his epic poem, “Noble Thoughts Are My Homies.”
— Thomas Carlyle. Amen to that, bro. That, and maybe a collection of YouTube videos.
Other points of interest: we saw a handwritten draft of the Gettysburg Address, penned by Abe himself, and the original collection of books that Thomas Jefferson donated to Congress for start up the library. It included his copy of Utopia. Nice, right?
I love these funny faces that were tucked into the decorative painting.
The Supreme Court
. . . was covered head-to-toe in scaffolding in an effort to clean up the exterior. Fortunately, the powers that be were courteous enough to print a giant picture of the building on the scaffolding, so photo-grubbing tourists like me wouldn’t be forced to take a shot of a big plastic-covered box. Cold comfort.
Inside was . . . nobody! Just the lingering aura of constitutional justice, thank you very much.
Plus another pretty ceiling. I really have a problem.
The National Gallery
This was one of my favorite places to go when I was a teenager. Back then, I used to daydream about growing up, having a family, and bringing my own children to the museum. Some dreams do come true.
I will admit that the nostalgia factor was up pretty high. We didn’t have time to swing by my hometown to show the kids my old home, so this was the next best thing.
Here’s my tip about taking photos in galleries: you can generally get away with it if nobody’s looking and you don’t use a flash. Especially in the Louvre, it’s like Parisians have just given up on policing cameras. Except when you use a flash. Then people shake their fingers and say “Noooo le flash!”
ELEANOR AND JEFFREY IN THE SHADOW OF THE GREATS
Jeff & George
Ella & Tom
Kathryn & Sargent (not pictured: Kathryn. She really loved this portrait)
Ella & Ophelia — I mainly took a picture of this one because Brian and I saw this exact same painting when we went to London as newlyweds. Why do I love Pre-Raphaelite art so much??
General Monet Exhaustion (Brian and I have been known to fall asleep in the presence of Monet, back in our wild youthful days before we had children)
We enjoyed this museum so much that we decided to return the following morning; Eleanor patiently went through an entire traveling Albrecht Durer exhibit, with me describing and asking her questions about all the paintings and engravings. New discovery: Eleanor is really good with art museums. I need to take her to more of ’em.
I am including the following image pretty much because it depicts my favorite part of Dante’s Inferno. What, you didn’t know there was a steamy reading-a-book-together scene in L’Inferno? Hie thee to the library, lest Minerva strike thee with a curse! Or takes a whack at you with her scroll!
Crazy space-saga walkway!
Pyramids! (Take that, Louvre!)
Underground waterfall! Dude, I love that waterfall. So good to see it again.
ANNNNND . . . .
The First Weird Squirrel
It was an albino squirrel, hanging out behind the National Gallery. The stuff of legends.
ALBINO. SQUIRREL. With red eyes and everything! If I ever become an evil overlord, I’m definitely going to get an albino squirrel. It can perch on my shoulder and I shall nourish it with the despair of my enemies. [rubs hands together]
Coming Up: Mega Museum Blitz, Featuring Alligator Stew