Skip the turkey in Washington DC – Do the museums instead!

(Last Updated On: May 28, 2020)

Thanksgiving day: A gorgeous morning, with blue skies and lots of sunshine. A perfect fall day!

Although we are fortunate that the Smithsonian museums are open even today, none open before 10. This leaves us plenty of time to walk to the mall and through the garden behind the Castle until the rest of the museums open their doors.


It is so lovely out here that I hate to actually go inside, but the National Museum of African Art has a Tuareg exhibit that I am eager to see, so off we go, into the depths of the museum world.

What an amazing exhibit! Several rooms are filled with elegant jewelry, metal, and leatherwork, along with plenty of cultural information about these intriguing nomads of the Sahara.

At the Bead Museum the curator had talked about the fact that governments have been trying to get the Taureg to abandon their nomadic ways and settle down – a story familiar to nomadic peoples the world over. The jewelry for sale there actually came from a man who kept moving farther and farther out to avoid life in a city, yet he somehow managed to get to the United States to sell his work. Talk about moving between worlds! The exhibit here is really focused on how the Tuareg are – mostly successfully – continuing their traditions in a rapidly changing world. Much of the modern pieces come from a husband and wife jewelry and leather-working pair who are very successfully bringing their traditional arts to the larger world. It is a gorgeous exhibit.

We also walk into an exhibit showcasing a collection built by a couple who started off with just two pieces, perhaps purchased on a whim, and then went on to build a simply stunning collection. Wow.

Our time here is quickly coming to an end, so we decide to head over to the Freer and Sackler Galleries to see the Asian ceramics.

Along the way we come across an exhibit of Japanese paintings from the Edo period. They are elegant and lovely. Definitely worth a detour.

And then it is time to head back to the hotel, off to the airport, and homeward.

It is 70 degrees and sunny. I wish I could just stay here in this fascinating city.

Exploring the National Mall in Washington DC

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