USA Diaries – Day 8 of 30 – Something was in our Drinks!

This diary post is a part of a 30 day trip that I am taking this month which it also happens to be my first ever International trip. So for the next 30 years I will be posting here all my weird thoughts and commentary. 

Day 8, 25-7-2012 – In my hotel room, Washington DC, Local Time: 0801, Pakistan Time:25 July 2012, 1717

The day started off as any typical day with me getting out of bed after as much delay possible. When we finally did reach our destination, we were early enough for me to walk around the National Mall. There has been an AIDS Event going on all over DC nowadays, and Smithsonian has been involved in with with its “Quilt Project”. I have already talked about this before and it is according to me one of the most amazing campaigns. These quilts can be seen at a number of locations, from community halls to Museums.

Yesterday was our second day at the Freer and Seckler Art Museum (FS). And as soon as we reached the lobby, we were escorted to our respective signed up workshops. I had signed up for the Workshop on “Social Media and Marketing” which was all bout Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and a special event that FS does every year called “Asia After Darks”. The Class was led by Amanda Minie Williamson and Amanda Peck, and two of their interns. Now as much excited I was about the workshop, there wasn’t much that I thought came out of it. It was good how they are always engaging with their audience but it wasn’t something new I felt. I would have preferred more to come out of that workshop.


After the workshop we again headed off to the Energy Department for Lunch, which was fabolous as usual, and incidentally I took more than I should have. But well, its food.

Since we had some time on our hand yesterday after lunch, we decided to explore the Museum a bit. I headed straight for the Freer Gallery, much due to my impulsive behavior which requires I start from the beginning.


Oh and who can forget the Peacock Room! It was one of the most amazing places ever. Apparently Freer had the room bought and installed in the Museum after he saw it in the house of someone.



The second workshop of the day was about ImagineAsia and how hands-on activities can be designed in relation to a certain exhibition. I have to say this was one of the most interesting approaches that I have ever seen to an exhibition. They are suppose to have this really wonderful activity this Sunday at 10 am and then again at 2pm and I am really trying hard to get in it. Lets see if I can make it or not. We ourselves for this class did these superb activities. We are given this Moraqa in which we were suppose to paste our pictures and color the detailed illustrations around it. It was brilliant fun.







USA Diaries – Day 7 of 30 – Adventures at Hotel

This diary post is a part of a 30 day trip that I am taking this month which it also happens to be my first ever International trip. So for the next 30 years I will be posting here all my weird thoughts and commentary. 

Day 7, 23-7-2012 – In my hotel room, Washington DC, Local Time: 2301, Pakistan Time:24 July 2012, 0759

Today was the first tough day that we encountered, and it was enough to make us conclude about the type of days that are to follow. Today the true training started as a matter of speaking. Our day started off early today, that is at 0700 hours, which seemed like the most appropriate time to us to wake up if we wanted to be on time for our 0900 assumed appointment at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, which too is a Smithsonian Institute. However, it was only when we were about to take the Metro that it was told that our appointment at the Museum is not until 1000! So what is one to do till then? This particular Individual decided to roam the Mall. I wanted to go to the African Art Museum, but that too was to be opened at 10, so I simply went to the “Castle” and signed up for a membership there. That is definitely Money well spent.

The Castle – A close up

The Castle

Interiors at the Castle

When the museum finally did open, we were greeted by Dr. Nancy Micklewright who is the Head of Scholarly Publications and Programs at the Freer Gallery of Art. The Museum and Art Gallery in itself is spectacular as is its history. Apparently, Charles L. Freer was a Detroit business man who made his money from the booming railroad business of the 1900s. He was also a man with much taste for the Chinese Art Pieces, and thus had a huge collection which he finally donated to the Museum with a condition – the museum can not loan or accept any other collection or artifact. This was how he sought to maintain his legacy in a place strictly dedicated to only his collection. It definitely says about the love that he had for his pieces.

Freer/Arthur Gallery of Art

View towards the Courtyard

The class started off with Dr. Nancy Micklewright talk who gave us an orientation about what our time at F/S will be like. We were then allowed to choose our interested workshops, more of which I will discuss tomorrow after I am done attending them. We were then taken in the authority of Alexander Nagel, who is the Assistant Curator of Ancient Near Eastern Art. What I loved about the guy is his open and warm attitude towards everyone and how he is ready to admit that he doesn’t know somebody and asked us to explain things to him. His learning and curiosity doesn’t seems to have an end. He is basically an archaeologist working on sites in Iran, but has been now working with F/S for almost 2 or 3 years (I cant recall exactly). We were given a tour of the galleries before we were rushed off to a talk by him about the work that F/S does and the various departments that are in the galleries, which include a in-house Workshop, to build showcases etc, Photography Studio, and one of the oldest conservation lab for Asian Art.

Nancy giving her talk! (Bad picture I know)

Alexander Nagel

After the talk by Alex, we headed out to the Energy Department, which is a Federal Building, which we were told will provide us with ample choices for food. Now it has to be said that that statement was an understatement. There was so much variety that it was almost insane. And that too all affordable.

Don’t be confused.. those are three different bars of food!

We headed back to the rest of our session, which was kicked off by Senior Exhibit Coordinator Kelly Swain. She showed in her presentation as case studies two of the panels that they have designed and how and what was the though process behind it. Her presentation left us all amazed and I have some more questions for her, which I plan to get an answer for tomorrow. The second presentation and talk that we got was from John Tsantes who heads the Imaging and Photographic Section. I can say it for everyone today with a lot of confidence that we were simply taken aback by the vast amount of cameras and equipment that they had. It was simply amazing.

Kelly Swain


Above: John gives a talk, Last picture: The equipment that they use was simply amazing.

The last talk of the day was from Carol Huh, who works as the Assistant Curator of Contemporary Asian Art. Now I don’t have any interest in Contemporary Art, but it needs to be said, that the discussion was pretty engaging. Questions were raised about how to draw a line between what is contemporary art and what is someone just putting a flush seat in front of the audience.

Carol Huh

The night ended with us decided for ourselves that today is the day when we will cook ourselves. So I decided to cook this baked potato, while Amrita – a new friend of mine – decided to give the Classic Mac and Cheese (packed) a try. I did also make these tomatoes with cheese in it which I ha gotten from the Farmer Market. The night ended with Rajesh – another friend – doing the dishes for us in his own hostel style.

SO far everything is simply perfect.