Monday, May 7, 2007
If you're coming to D.C., do not miss this statue of Albert Einstein. It's my favorite one in town. In a city of formal statuary, it's the most informal of monuments, and wholly true to the spirit of the man it's dedicated to.
The statue is in the garden of the National Academy of Sciences. The picture above does not do it justice.
After you've visited the Lincoln Memorial and the Viet Nam Veteran's Memorial, it's directly across Constitution Avenue, but if you aren't looking for it, you probably wouldn't see it.
He looks so grandfatherly that you almost always find a kid (or adult) sitting in his lap, once you get there.
When you visit in person, he's sitting amidst all sorts of greenery. The platform his statue is on is full of various sized metal studs. Their positions on the platform represent the stars in the sky on the date the statue was dedicated.
Rumpled sweater, sandals, a sketchpad with E=MC(squared) (sorry, I don't know how to do superscripts in in HTML), everything about this statue is right.
It's was done by the sculptor Robert Berks, the same artist who executed the bust of JFK at the Kennedy Center.
Speaking of which, don't miss the Kennedy Center either. To really appreciate it fully, you should see a show in one of the building's six public performance spaces. Even if it's just one of the free concerts given on the Center's Millennium stage at 6:00 p.m. each evening, it helps make the place a real living memorial to President Kennedy, and not just a huge marble building that looks like a Kleenex box or a tiered wedding cake. (No, Edward Durrell Stone IS NOT one of my favorite architects.)
Unlike the Einstein statue, tho, it's not near much of anything else, so you have to plan to include it in your visit. It's worth it.
It IS across the street from the Watergate, but the Watergate is just a complex of office buildings, condos, a hotel and a bit of retail shopping, so it's kind of anti-climactic for anyone expecting to see something associated with the Nixon-era scandal that bears its name.
I've been here since I came for college in 1980, so I've got a lot of experience showing folks around my adopted hometown.
If you're coming to town, just ask; I'm full of touristy-type tips. (Go ahead, try saying touristy-type tips three times fast.)