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Icebergs and Queen Charlotte at the National Building Museum

July 31, 2016

 

I don’t usually shell out for admission to D.C. museums – not when most of them are  world-class and free – but I’m a sucker for buzz, and the National Building Museum has it. I’m easily entertained, so all my previous Building Museum visits were to see the free stuff. I didn’t understand those exhibits were gateway drugs to the good  stuff. Then I watched the museum’s time-lapse of the construction of “Icebergs,” and I knew I had to see the insanity first-hand.

Before I go any further, I’m compelled to share an I’m-sure-unrelated thought:

ADULT ADMISSION TO THE NATIONAL BUILDING MUSEUM IS $16 PER PERSON THAT MEANS IT COST ME AND CAKE MAN A TOTAL OF $32 TO GET INTO THE NATIONAL BUILDING MUSEUM THAT IS A LOT OF MONEY FOR A MUSEUM IN D.C. THAT WAS BUILT BY THE GOVERNMENT BY 1887 AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAID FOR SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY SHOULDN’T THERE BE A DISCOUNT FOR PROXIMITY TO ALL THE FREE MUSEUMS FOR CTHULHU’S SAKE THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART IS A FIVE MINUTE WALK AWAY AND IT’S FREE AND THE ARTWORK INSIDE IS PROBABLY WORTH A BILLION DOLLARS YES I KNOW TAXPAYER DOLLARS AND LARGE DONOR FUNDRAISING UNDERPIN THE “FREE” MUSEUMS ON THE MALL BUT GEEZ AND YES I KNOW I COULD JOIN THE MUSEUM AND PAY LESS TO GET IN BUT ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?

So…ah-hem…as I was saying…

“Icebergs” at the National Building Museum is really cool, and I highly recommend it as a surreal, entertaining and unique experience at the National Building Museum. My visit was  a lot of fun. On top of that, I’m intrigued by how museums innovate in ways that draw visitors and give artists space to do their work.

As part of the “Icebergs” exhibit, I enjoyed seeing this highly-accurate depiction of the inside of an iceberg.

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I was entertained by Cake Man making faces at me for taking too many pictures while we were on the iceberg scaffolding viewing platform.

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I contemplated the nature of reality, light filtration and the multiple uses of large sections of blue cloth.

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I scooted down (cotton pants fail) one of these slides without having to pretend I was six years old. Adults are specifically allowed! Not pictured here are the hordes of children and their parents. The National Building Museum is something of a go-to spot for local families who can spring for an annual membership.

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I marveled from below the blue cloth at the strange world above.

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And because I actually paid to get in, I was sure to visit the all the otherwise-off-limits rooms, including the Raymond Kaskey exhibit, which was unrelated to “Icebergs.” The National Building Museum is currently displaying Kaskey’s model for Queen Charlotte, one of the coolest, most unexpected public sculptures I’ve ever seen. Queen Charlotte is supposed to look like she’s being supported by the wind. Kaskey’s model does a pretty good job of conveying that sense.

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The final bronze statute outside the Charlotte-Douglas Airport is like an entirely different artistic concept though. The image below shows how the final Queen Charlotte looked 7 years ago when I saw her in person. At the time, I was surprised and amused that the airport would have such a creepy, weird sculpture on such prominent display. I figured it was just something I didn’t understand about the South. Having seen the original model, I still can’t say I understand why it became this weathered Queen Charlotte casting her evil spell, but I love her even more now as an example of the distance between plans and reality.

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With a visit to the National Building Museum, you’ll get to see it all. To cover the price of admission, I recommend skipping the saving of pennies and going straight to the saving of quarters before “Icebergs” ends on September 5. Kaskey’s work is part of the Museum’s permanent collection, but the Queen Charlotte model might rotate out of display at any point, which will hopefully occur before she sips the same Wicked Witch of the West potion that bronze Queen Charlotte consumed.

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