On my visit to the Smithsonian's American History museum last Friday, I saw their small (compared to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art) collection of musical instruments. What the collection lacked in size it made up in content. They had an entire Stradivarius quartet of instrument, including the only Stradivarius viola that I can recall seeing in person. In fact, I wasn't entirely aware that Stradivari made any violas. It seemed a shame to have the instruments locked away in display cases, but from the audio clips playing in the gallery I assume they see an occasional performance.
I also got to see the World War II memorial for the first time. I was against the construction of this memorial when it was proposed back when I still lived in Washington, DC. I'm still not convinced that the veterans of WWII deserve a more majestic memorial than the veterans of the Korean or Vietnam wars. But the WWII memorial pays tribute to our country's role in that war while fitting into the expanse of the National Mall. Walking around the fountains and reading the names of the major battles of the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, I remembered the scope of that conflict and the sheer effort the entire country devoted to it. If we're going to have a monument to our role in that war, I think that memorial was the best we could do.
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