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Wonder at the Renwick Gallery

March 31, 2016

IMG_7617People have been coming from all over the world to take in Wonder at the Renwick Gallery. The exhibit closes in a few months, and Cake Man said I really needed to see it. He even showed me some of the amazing pictures from his visit. Usually, I don’t need to be urged to go to museums. I already swing that way, but the Renwick Gallery is slightly beyond my National Mall stomping grounds.

So with only two months to spare, I gave into peer pressure and went to the Renwick Gallery to see what everyone was talking about. And there I found an amazing spectacle outside a non-Mall museum…


IMG_7612I was stunned. And impressed! The Renwick isn’t the Air and Space Museum every summer day from 11am – 3pm or the Natural History Museum any day in March when my tour guide twiend @beccagrawl visits with a group. It’s a museum of contemporary craft and decorative arts. Beautiful and interesting, yes. But typically the destination for hordes of people? Well, apparently – yes.

I couldn’t have been more pleased. I was having a first-rate, unexpected, non-dangerous, quite enjoyable experience in Northwest D.C. Yes, I had somewhere else to be in the not-too-distant future, but I’m no fool who turns down the opportunity to get into a free line with something phenomenal on the other end. Twenty-five minutes later, I found out I had entered the line at the 25-minute mark. I entered the building and saw…


I so knew I had done the right thing. Wonder was clearly the place to be. IMG_7618

I went to the Vatican once a few years back. I wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. It turns out, the Sistine Chapel is at the end of the Vatican tour. I think something like 200 billion people visit the Vatican each year, which means about 500 million visit every day. Or at least it felt like that many. Standing in the mile-long line to see the Sistine Chapel is the only place I’ve ever considered that people could actually feel claustrophobic in a series of gold tunnels covered in antique paintings.

Being at the Renwick for Wonder, I was vaguely reminded of the Sistine Chapel  minus the gold and the guards yelling “Silencio!” every 10 seconds. (Note to the Vatican: The irony of yelling for silence is not lost on me.)

IMG_7603The line inside the Renwick Gallery was more like an eager line clump. Followed by another. And another. Et cetera. There were lines to get into each room of Wonder. The place was overflowing! Each new room was so cool and filled with large displays – sometimes unlikely objects, but other times impressive lighting.

At some point, I started trying to peek past the guards to see the different rooms without actually having to get into another line clump. But there’s only so far you can go with peeking before the guards start giving you the eye. And I did have somewhere to be that wasn’t the Renwick Gallery.

When I entered the room where the giant line doubled back on itself like some horrendous two hour Miami-Dade Airport Immigration and Customs nightmare, I finally gave up on going any farther. To be fair, everyone in the Renwick Gallery doubled-back line seemed to be having a good time watching the lights on the walls and ceiling change color. But I did have somewhere else to be. It seemed like the end for my relationship with Wonder.


Everyone hold still while I take this panorama.

Resigned, I headed to the restroom before the next jaunt. At which point I discovered just outside the restroom entrance…


IMG_1409Mine may not be the best pictures of Wonder, but they were taken in the most unexpectedly-rewarding of circumstances, which is to say – generally around the corner and leaning past the ropes that separate the restrooms from the art. Admittedly, not all those restroom vantage point pictures are worth sharing, but luckily I have access to other images (like the one to the right) even though it doesn’t seethe with the raw energy of thousands of people being in the coolest museum around.

Kudos to the staff of the Renwick Gallery for managing the flow of people so well and for setting up such an interesting exhibit that really is the place to be. I highly recommend going to the Renwick Gallery to see the Wonder crowds. The art was pretty awesome, too. Wonder closes on May 8, 2016. I’m told the weekday, mid-day lines are much tamer. But where’s the fun in that?

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