A shot of the Capitol building. Lady Freedom gazes down at us. We will shortly be gazing at her. Note: The building atop Capitol Hill is spelled with an "o." Washington D.C. is the Nation's Capital (spelled with an "a"). But you knew that.
The new Visitor's Center is underground, so you want to enter a level or two below the Capitol building.
One of the most impressive signs I have ever laid eyes upon.
The dramatic centerpiece of what's called "Emancipation Hall" is this plaster version of Lady Freedom, which is placed atop the Capitol. It's the center's most obvious photo-op.
Close up. I like the "US" clasp and the starry headband. That bird hat is a bit silly, though, but that's classical style for you. If she were designed nowadays I suppose she'd be wearing a backwards baseball cap.
A view of Emancipation Hall on a not at all crowded Veteran's Day. Normally I'm not a fan of lavish government spending, but this time I think it was probably worth it. The new facility is a far cry from what they used to do. This is much nicer, befitting the Capitol and what it stands for. The House and Senate displays (no photography allowed, sadly) were excellent. There is also a big cafeteria. I had a cookie.
Here's an amazing statue of Hawaii's Kng Kamehameha I. (Each state is allowed two.) I've always liked this one. You have to admire the audacity of a guy wearing a gold leaf loincloth in the august calls of the Capitol.
Utah has Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of the cathode ray tube and, hence, television. Here possibly he considers the crappy programming about to be made possible by his invention. Maybe he's thinking, "I ought to throw this thing into the Great Salt Lake before this whole television thing catches on."
Alabama contributes Helen Keller, inventor of countless Helen Keller jokes. Some thoughtful member of the public left behind a paper cup for the water.
Utah's other statue is Brigham Young, naturally. They would have included statues of the wives but that would have run Utah out of granite.
Robert E. Lee, one of Virginia's two statues. The other? Who else but George Washington?
I think the Lee statue in Richmond's Capitol building is better, however. I prefer the pose and facial expression.
This is Chief Washakie, from Wyoming. An impressive statue in the best of the modern style. (The states are allowed to replace statues every decade if they want.)
I liked this one of Jack Swigert. Once again, modern in a good sense. DO NOT TOUCH! We don't want fingermarks all over that white spacesuit.
The tour moved into the great dome. Photos cannot do it justice. Our guide said that if you placed the Statue of Liberty within it there would still be thirty feet from the top of the torch to the top of the dome (where Brumidi's "Apotheosis of Washington" is painted).
Congress commissioned this rather unsatisfactory statue of U.S. Grant for the great circular area under the dome. White marble doesn't photograph as well as bronze, and it's too heroic a pose for a man who was quite unaffected. I greatly prefer the Grant on horseback statue outside, facing the Mall. He's wearing a slouchy hat and faces South with a basilisk stare. Lee. Richmond. Gonna get 'em.
But I suppose it's the thought that counts.
The tour moved into the Old House Chamber.
The ceiling of the Old House Chamber. A domelet.
Clio, standing in a chariot, records history, bless her soul. (Somebody has to.) Old House Chamber.
Inset in the floor of the Old House Chamber. How many witticisms and snide remarks originate from this spot? And did Clio write any of 'em down?
While in the Capitol I also took the Brumidi Corridors tour. Here's our tour guide explaining things. I chatted with him a bit; a very knowledgable young man. He may be a more determined tourist than me... he compiled a spreadsheet of the sites he wants to see. That fellow in the black jacket was asking questions about the Architect of the Capitol's responsibilities as if he were interviewing for the position.
Brumidi's process was the difficult to master fresco painting, which involves infusing wet plaster with pigment, not something your average Thomas Kinkade Painter of Light (tm) can do.
From a Senate pamphlet...
A shot of a corridor painted by Constantino Brumidi starting in 1856.
This shot of the ceiling gives you an idea of how lavish Brumidi's designs are. They were adapted from Italian Renaissance originals.
All sorts of little critters scamper around on the walls.
Brumidi wisely left blank spaces for later artists to fill. This is the Spirit of St. Louis crossing the North Atlantic.
A later artist painted this portrait of the ill-fated Challenger Shuttle crew on canvas, which was then placed in one of Brumidi's blank ovals. Clearly, big hair was in for women in the mid-1980's.
Landing on the Moon. I like that the Earth is centered at the top of the oval.
In the Patent Corridor, Robert Fulton invites us to gaze at his invention, the steamboat. "Behold what I have accomplished. I made Mark Twain possible." No, that's not the Mississippi. It's the Hudson.
Across from Robert Fulton is this painting of John Fitch, who invented the first steam-powered boat. Sadly for him, Robert Fulton not only got pride of place in the Brumidi Corridors but recognition. That's life.
Ben Franklin invented the Post Office - which is why his picture graces the entrance of the Postal Affairs Committee room.
The Senate Appropriations Chamber. It's easy to spend megabucks when the room you're meeting in is this lavish!
A Brumidi ceiling.
I liked this interpretation of Bellona, the Roman Goddess of War, Clearly, she's paying a visit to some American Civil War battlefield or camp!
There's a long tunnel that takes you across the street to the Library of Congress building, an added attraction. It's one of the most beautiful and lavish interiors I have ever seen in the United States.
I've been there once before on official government business. Our host was the most obnoxious Federal employee I have ever met, continually going on about how since Congress controls the pursestrings they can build themselves an ornate library. Nothing but the best, etc. By lunchtime I was heartily glad to be done with him.
A shot of the LoC interior.
A LoC ceiling. Point and shoot camera photography doesn't begin to do this place justice.
Minerva. Why her? Because yes.
The Library of Congress main ceiling. Cost was clearly no object.
In one of the LoC's many corridors there was a George Gershwin display room. Here's his circa 1925 Steinway grand. DROOL. Did he use it to write Porgy and Bess or An American in Paris?
The LoC had a Bob Hope exhibit, where this decidedly odd surrealist painting was on display.
On the rainy walk back to my car I went by the Folger Shakespeare Museum. I love these 1930's murals of scenes from Shakespeare plays. Bubble, bubble, boil and trouble, this one's from Macbeth (aka "the Scottish Play" by thespians who are disallowed by superstitious custom from pronouncing the play's true name).
Richard III. Nice Uncle Gloucester loves his nephews.
Hamlet, my favorite play. Hamlet's ghostly Dad is seen at left. REVENGE. And that's the end of my little photographic tour. Did you enjoy it?