It seems I have a New Year’s Day ritual; brunch at the same restaurant, followed by going to a museum downtown. It didn’t even hit me until Karon mentioned this morning that I’d done the exact same thing three years in a row, but sure enough, it started in 2005 with brunch at Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington and the Dream Worlds exhibit at the Sackler Gallery. 2006’s museum trip involved The Spirit of Ancient Columbian Gold and Nature’s Best Photography Awards at the Natural History Museum.
This year, brunch involved irish sausages, rashers, eggs, black and white pudding, home fries, toast, and a cup of the potato leek soup. A hearty breakfast, certainly, or at least one in which my pulse will be racing for quite some time as I try and digest all of that cholesterol and fat. A pretty satisfying way to start the morning, though, and we were seated right next to the fireplace which was particularly comforting. It was a foggy, misty, vaguely raining sort of morning in the DC area and it’s hard to get a more comforting place than Four Courts in the morning.
Then it was time to head downtown and finally see the National Museum of the American Indian. It’s rather silly the more I think about it, but the museum opened in mid-2004 and I think every year I’ve vowed that I will finally go and see it. In 2006 I ran right by the museum some 20-odd times as part of marathon training, and each time I would cringe and think to myself, “Why haven’t I gone there yet?” (I do remember trying to go on January 1st, 2005, but the museum was only a couple of months old and there was a long line just to get in.)
So, finally, the journey was made. It’s an interesting museum, and I’d heard a lot over the past couple of years about both its pros and cons with the way that its contents are presented. It’s a peculiar building, with the first two floors being primarily a cafe and two different gift shops, for instance. As you continue to ascend its four stories, you begin to see a wide variety of exhibits; ones about how different tribes and nations view themselves, their history, and the world. Some of the areas were fascinating, others felt completely flat. It’s a real hodgepodge of material to be absorbed.
There are some moments of real beauty there, like Preston Singletary’s Raven Steals the Sun sculpture, or some of the materials on display, such as a graceful flowing pattern of arrowheads that looked like rivers of stone. I’m still not sure how I felt about two of the areas where all of the items were displayed in a series of large glass cases (some with additional pull-drawers beneath them) and computer screens about five feet away that would give you information about each object. The wealth of information on the computers was impressive, and being able to zoom in on parts of the objects was clever, but it made me at the same time feel disconnected from what was on the computer screen versus what was in the case.
I’m glad I went, though. I’ve felt very silly to have not gone for so long. And, more importantly, I like having my New Year’s Day tradition. It’s a nice way to start both the day and the new year with a bit of grace, a bit of culture, a bit of comfort. It would be nice to be so fabulously wealthy that any day could involve this sort of life of leisure, but until then I’ll hang onto my annual date. I’ll certainly go to other museums over the course of the year and have nice, slowpoke mornings as well, but for some reason this combination just feels a little more special.
Happy New Year, one and all.