Diana Belchase

Museum Mondays: The Smithsonian is Closed

Every new year begins with resolutions and I have many. Along with the traditional health, fitness, and time with family — the great triumvirate of resolutions that everyone makes each year — come those relating to writing. One huge goal is to work more steadfastly on this blog and introduce new features: Museum Mondays, Washington Wednesdays, and Undercover Fridays as a start. Museum Mondays are especially close to my heart because not everyone has a museum near them, and most are closed on Mondays — the intention being, if someone needs a quick museum fix, then they can look here. Having the Smithsonian closed during the government shutdown is making everyone in Washington, D.C. antsy — along with all the other reasons we are normally antsy both during a shutdown and just by living in the D.C. metro area — so I hope to soothe some dusty museum souls in the interim, too.

Diana Belchase at the Air and Space Museum
(c) Diana Belchase

Most of us in D.C. take the Smithsonian for granted. It's just there. Like air. Like food from high class eateries and overpriced food trucks. Living in a city where the Smithsonian is generally open every day of the year (except for December 25th), and where the world's greatest museum is free, means we pop in and out of exhibits like teenagers popping in and out of friends' homes (and refrigerators).

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Landing on the Moon
The Lunar Landing (c) Diana Belchase

On January 1st, my husband and I started the year with a visit to the Air and Space Museum. The loveliest woman greeted us, thinking us tourists, she explained that the museum would close down indefinitely the next day. The news, which we already knew, pinged deep in my soul. A sort of empty feeling — like the sound when you reach the bottom of a soup pot and find all it's yummy warmth completely gone.

Frankly, it made us appreciate all we saw a bit more than usual. Can you believe that 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of us landing on the moon? (Click HERE for more on the landing) We rubbed the moon rock for luck. And marveled at the stars in the Eisenhower Planetarium.

Alas poor Pluto, I knew thee well — it still rankles that Pluto isn't a planet but at least I understand better why it no longer is. And seeing the teeny orb-shaped satellite that made the first international broadcast possible is mind-blowing.

Telstar, the size of a beach ball photo
Telstar is roughly the size of an exercise ball. (c) Diana Belchase

Surprisingly, most of the employees were fine with the closing — those that were not contractors, but direct hires, cheerfully called it a paid vacation and talked about all the things they planned to do with their time. The volunteers were the sad ones, wondering what visitors and folks would do without the venerable institution.

Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
(c) Diana Belchase

I know what they mean. The Smithsonian is called America's Attic, but it should also be called America's Great Auntie, always there with a special treat to entice another visit and lots of memories to make us glad to be part of America's family.

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