This past weekend I tacked on an extra day after a Friday business presentation in Alexandria, Va., and visited two favorite sites in Washington, D.C.
Twenty-four hours in downtown D.C. also afforded me an accidental visit to the "Hinckley Hilton" as my Mapquest printout directed me to the wrong hotel on Friday afternoon (though the mile-long walk on Connecticut Street was nice, and helped me locate a wonderful Thai restaurant for dinner).
On Saturday, my first tourism stop was to the National Portrait Gallery. I love this place -- always learn a lot with every visit. Any my three-hours inside yielded an introduction or reintroduction to some Folk Art masters, a surprise Georgia O'Keefe skyline painting from 1932 (gorgeous), and a peek at the Ronald Reagan installation which was a new addition since my most recent visit.
Though there were no direct Olympic references spotted, some of the Reagan-era portraits reminded me of his role in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Opening Ceremony; also, the Folk Art of Alabama/Georgia fame, Howard Finster, brought back notions of his creations for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.
Another new addition (I think) was the enclosure of the museum's courtyard, which is now covered by a wonderful modern skylight.
The afternoon marked a return to the Newseum; my first visit was on Thanksgiving 2001, at the original location in Arlington, Va., and it was awesome to finally experience the Newseum's new home on Pennsylvania Ave.
Only moments after picking up the tickets, a trifecta of Olympic connections to the Newseumemerged. First, there is a "journalism in sport" film that brought to light several historic images from coverage of Olympians and the Olympics, from Muhammad Ali and Wilma Rudolph to more recent Olympic images from Barcelona, Atlanta, Athens and Beijing. The Olympic coverage was punctuated with Jim McKay's somber announcement "They're all gone" referencing the victims of the Munich Olympic hostage crisis carried live for more than 18 hours on ABC Sports.
Just outside the theatre for the sports film, I enjoyed the temporary "photos of the year" exhibition featuring several Olympic images of 2010 including the Vancouver Games and the first Youth Olympic Games at Singapore.
The third Olympic reference in the museum was in the video archive, where several Games' key clips are available via touch screen.
I was impressed with the new Newseum's outdoor overlook for Pennsylvania Ave., with commanding views of the Capitol Dome. Inside this viewing area they display a timeline of the week of Hurricane Katrina and how the news media (specifically print) covered the national tragedy (it did seem to me that more video highlights would enhance this gallery).
Of course, 9/11 and its upcoming 10th anniversary are prominently displayed with a headlines and video experience built around remains of the World Trade Center's radio tower. Somber, yes. Informative, yes. It was also interesting to read of many journalists who died in the line of duty. I found the Newseum also kept things current with an obviously new display featuring the last edition of the now-defunct Murdoch tabloid of London.
The one Achilles' Heel of the Newseum is its lack of social media displays, which were tucked behind several decades worth of historic broadcast coverage. It seems to me the Newseum has a real opportunity to inform its visitors of the rapid-fire changes underway through delivery of online news. They covered the basics -- would love to return to the Newseum with a new section or wing on social media in the last decade, big online news successes and flops.
Looking forward to another DC visit in the months ahead.
Tonight I learned briefly that the International Association of Olympic Historians (ISOH) launched on Dec. 5, 1991, in London. The same date in 1991 I believe yeilded a B- in World History class exams handed back to me at Edmond Memorial High School.
To celebrate 20 years of ISOH, the organization announced recently a symposium set for Dec. 6, 2011, at HausMenden, St. Augustin, Germany. A brochure for the festivities states that "everyone interested in the history of the Olympic Movement is welcome to attend" with a registration fee of 70 Euros for non-members or 60 for members (students are free). For more information visit the "contacts" page a www.isoh.org and send an email to Anthony Th. Bijkerk via the site.
I'm in the Windy City sharing a dealer table at the National Sports Collectors Convention (a.k.a. "The National"), a five-day event at which baseball, Olympic and other sports memorabilia are showcased. Some tables are like museum showcases, while others (like mine) resemble a portable garage sale of souvenirs gathered from closets and draws full of five-ringed fare.
It's an interesting event, and also enjoyable to get acquainted or re-acquainted with several fellow Olympic collectors. The show is also challenging, finding the balance of selling items (to clear space in the apartment) with the desire to buy several items on sale.
Another highlight of the event: Meeting Olympic champion Dick Fosbury again (we first shook hands in Vancouver). Fosbury presented a keynote during a special dealer/collector dinner hosted by Olympin, which helped bring the Olympic section of the collector event to the USA for the first time (Olympic collector events of this scale traditionally take place in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the IOC sanctioned the Chicago event). Also discussed the World Olympians Association with Fosbury as he is president of the organization.
Pin collectors looking forward to London were dazzled by the officialpin maker of London 2012 -- HONAV -- which as a corner display at the Chicago event. HONAV will produce 2,012 pins for London 2012, and sell up to 500 exclusive complete sets (retail price: about $17,000).
While The National will be back in the USA next year, I understand the Olympic section of the show next moves to Athens in 2012, which is perfect -- gives me another year to prepare my portable garage sale.
A public relations executive by day, small-time eBayer by night and weekends, lifetime member of the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH) and full-time Olympic enthusiast who also looks at "BoingBoing-style" unusual news with interest. Please e-mail me at email@example.com or if you can't get enough try my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/people/Nicholas_Wolaver/713593008