From Art

PictureTips_LincolnReflectingPool

Tips for Taking Memorable Pictures Around Washington, D.C.

Our deepest thanks to Angela Napili, the author of this guest post. Angela is a Senior Research Librarian at the Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress, and she is also an award-winning amateur photographer. Thanks for sharing your tips, Angela!


With its monumental architecture, historic landmarks, and diverse communities, Washington DC is a photographer’s paradise. Here are three photo tips.

Tip 1:  If you want to avoid the crowds and harsh midday sun, then early mornings and early evenings are lovely times to photograph DC’s memorials.

The Lincoln Memorial at sunrise.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

Evening at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool looking toward the Washington Monument.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

The Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial at sunset, photographed with a zoom lens from near the Washington Monument.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

Here are the sunrise and sunset times.

 

Tip #2: Some of DC’s best photo opportunities are indoors, with free admission (and air conditioning!)

Electronic Superhighway” by Korean-American artist Nam June Paik,  Smithsonian American Art Museum.  Here is the Smithsonian’s photography policy.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

The Supreme Court of the United States, photographed from just outside the courtroom. Here is the Court’s photography policy.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

Union Station. Here is Union Station’s photography policy.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.
Tip #3: Keep your camera within easy reach. You never know when you’ll come across something interesting, like a Dog in a costume.

Here is a Welsh Corgi dressed up as Captain America. (Well, kind of.)

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Picture taken by Angela Napili.

Even our metro stations are eye-catching. This is the Dupont Circle Station, but most stations in the system look very similar.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

More resources:

Do you have favorite DC photo spots, tips, or resources? Please share them in the comments below!

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Museums you must see… in DC!


Hello, IFLA Pre-Conference Attendees!

A nice feature of the American Capital is that you can discover amazing art while touring through beautiful historic buildings… all for free!

Thanks to the Smithsonian, “the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex”, visitors have multiple options to choose from. Most of the Smithsonian’s museums are located on the National Mall, which is near the Library of Congress and is the place in DC with the highest density of museums. The Smithsonian museums are open to the public every day except December 25. Their hours are generally from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.

Open the map (provided also at the Smithsonian’s website) for a view of the museums on the Mall.

Below is a quick overview to get you started.


A visit to the National Museum of American History is a great way to experience American life, history, and culture. We learned from their website that the museum has a rich collection of “more than 3 million artifacts”, documents, photographs, and more.

Star Spangled Banner
Photo Smithsonian

My own favorite exhibits are the Star-Spangled Banner, Jefferson’s lap desk, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

Metro exit: 14th St. and Constitution Ave., NW  Smithsonian (Mall exit) or Federal Triangle

Learn about the “earliest human origins” at the National Museum of Natural History. Discover the natural world in the heart of DC.

Here is a list of Museum must sees”

Metro exit: 10th Street & Constitution Ave., N.W. SMITHSONIAN (MALL EXIT) OR FEDERAL TRIANGLE

Walk around the National Museum of the American Indian building to experience the “spirit of Native America”. As they explain in their introduction, this community-inspired, award-winning building, with its “distinctive curvilinear architecture” is home to a large collection of Native art “from The Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego”.

Here is a current exhibit at the museum:

The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire June 26, 2015–June 1, 2018

Let’s eat! or Mitsitam! This museum’s cafeteria, the Mitsam, is known for featuring the indigenous cuisines of the Americas.

Metro exit: Fourth Street & Independence Ave., S.W.  L’Enfant Plaza (Smithsonian Museums exit)

Who is not curious about our universe? Find out more about Earth and  other planets than the National Air and Space Museum. With 8 million visitors per year, this is “the most visited museum in the U.S”.

If you have time for an adventure, visit the museum center in Chantilly, Virginia. According to their website, The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy center‘s massive structure provides an open space to display large air and spacecraft.

Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. Photo Credit: Smithsonian
Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. Photo Smithsonian

Also on their website we learned that Summer 2016 brings a fully renovated Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall to the museum on the Mall. This is the main hall that you can see as you enter the museum. Renovation plans include adding the Apollo Lunar Module and Star Trek starship Enterprise studio model, all in an inviting new space. Learn more!

 

metro exit: Independence Ave. at 6th St., SW L’enfant plaza (Maryland ave. exit)

The Freer Sackler Galleries, one next to the other and connected by a corridor, are the two Smithsonian museums dedicated to Asian art. While the Freer museum is closed through 2017 due to renovation, the Sackler gallery is open and has a lot to offer.

The Freer Sackler Galleries building - Photo Smithsonian
The Freer Sackler Galleries building – Photo Smithsonian

Crazy about Chinese ceramics? According to their website, the craze for Chinese blue-and-white ceramics started in London during the nineteenth century and it is still alive in the West. Learn more about this phenomenon by visiting the Chinamania exhibition, starting July 9, 2016 and lasting through June 2017.

If you have time, check out their Hong Kong Film Festival, one of the most popular gallery events and which will be ongoing through August.

Metro exit: 1050 Independence Ave SW Smithsonian

The National Museum of African Art offers traditional and contemporary art “from the entire continent of Africa”.

Visit this link to see their current exhibitions

Metro exit: 950 Independence Ave., SW   Smithsonian (Mall or Independence Ave. exit) 

Conveniently located in Downtown DC, the National Portrait Gallery tells the story of America “through the lenses of real individual lives”. The mission to “tell the American story through the individuals who have shaped it” is at the center of the Gallery’s America’s Presidents exhibition.

One featured exhibit is: Hollywood and Time

Holliwood and Time - Photo Smithsonian
View of “Hollywood and Time: Celebrity Covers.” Photo by Matailong Du. – Photo Smithsonian

This summer they invite us to “make eye contact with the men and women who shaped the entertainment industry”. As a cinephile myself, I won’t be missing this one!

This exhibit is ongoing through September.

 

Metro exit: 8th and F Streets NW  Gallery Place, Chinatown

Experience contemporary art and culture at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Click here to see their current exhibitions

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Photo courtesy Hirshhorn Museum
Metro exit: 7th Street and Independence Ave, SW  L’Enfant Plaza (Smithsonian Museums exit)

Renwick Gallery Building -- Photo Smithsonian
Renwick Gallery Building — Photo Smithsonian

Steps from Lafayette Square and the White House, the Renwick Gallery, part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, houses an “extensive collection of contemporary craft and decorative art”. The newly renovated gallery brings wonderful exhibitions and interactive activities that will spark your curiosity and enhance your art experience. Take a tour, participate in their handi-hour, or share your favorite things from this museum to be featured on their webpage. (Note: This museum is not on the National Mall.)

Metro exit: Pennsylvania Ave and 17th Street, NW  Farragut North

 

National Postal Museum Foyer - Lobby with statue of Ben Franklin - Photo Smithsonian (Flickr under CC share license)
National Postal Museum Foyer – Lobby with statue of Ben Franklin – Photo Smithsonian (Flickr under cc share license)

A must see for philatelists and admirers of beautiful stamps, the Postal Museum is only a few steps from Union Station. See the museum highlights. (Note: This museum is not on the National Mall.)

Metro exit: 2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E. Union Station

Not part of the Smithsonian but another free museum on the Mall is the National Gallery of Art. In his welcome message, NGA’s Director Earl A. Powell III
 says that “there is no substitute for experiencing great masterpieces in person”.

If you have time, you can visit the three spaces that make up this museum: The original neoclassical West building, where you can see these famous fine art paintings,  the East building of modern and contemporary art, and the Sculpture Garden, a true “oasis in the city”, with its contemporary sculptures and its Friday night Jazz in the Garden concert series. Another highlight: Check out their Film program for classics that you can see for free on Saturdays and Sundays afternoon.

Admission is free.

METRO EXIT: 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Smithsonian (Mall Exit)

Please don’t leave without telling us about your visit! Leave comments here to tell us about what you plan on seeing and what you’ve already seen (or, if you’re a local, what your favorites are). Or, you can tweet us using the hashtag #IFLAPREatLOC.