The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Valentine’s Day: Love is Blooming
Happy Valentine’s Day! Uh-oh did you forget? Have you waited till last minute to try and get reservations and are left without a plan for this evening? Well have no fear; the Smithsonian Institution Archives is here. First grab a card, some chocolate, and maybe a rose. Next head on over to the National Mall, where you can treat your sweetheart to their very own personal tour of the Smithsonian’s wonderful gardens and landscapes. Read ahead and you will be the perfect guide, as the following stories and the gardens’ natural beauty will provide you with the perfect backdrop for an enchanting date night.
There are several options, so why not start off with a stroll in the Smithsonian’s Enid Haupt Garden? Located behind the Smithsonian’s Castle, off of Independence Avenue, the Haupt Garden’s four acres of meticulously manicured landscapes will surely provide you with the romance your date night may need. Opened in 1987, the garden is named for its donor, Enid Annenberg Haupt, who contributed $3 million toward construction of the garden and its unique features. As you walk through the Renwick gates into the garden, you are immediately transported into a world of Victorian romance. Thanks to the wonderful Smithsonian horticulturists, stretched in front is a landscape of urns, red-brick paths, lampposts, and 19th-century-style furnishings. Feel free to describe to your date, that the central part of the garden, or “parterre”, displays precisely trimmed hedges and seasonal flora.
As you continue your stroll, you can enter into the Fountain Garden section, which was inspired by Spain’s Alhambra, a 13th century Moorish palace, and is located to the right of the Castle. Impress your valentine with your knowledge that the symmetrical design and water channels in the Fountain Garden are reminiscent of many Islamic gardens.
For your last stop on the tour, enter into the Moongate Garden section, found near the Sackler Gallery. In this garden you will experience a landscape based on Beijing, China’s Temple of Heaven. Walk through pink granite moon gates into a serene area, centered by a circular pool. At the end of the walk, throw out the fascinating fact, that the entire garden area is the roof to the Smithsonian’s underground complex known as the Quadrangle, which includes the S. Dillon Ripley International Center, the Freer Gallery of Art, the Sackler Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of African Art!
So, no need to fret about your February 14th plans. Stroll through some of the Smithsonian’s grounds and let Cupid do his work!