Infinity Rooms, Disco Fashion, & An Assassination| week in review

Happy Revenge of the Fifth and Cinco de Mayo for the people of Puebla. Please be sure to observe respectfully and enjoy the magic of Star Wars on this lovely Friday.

This week has been one of my more eventful weeks, especially as I’ve been doing a lot of DC things and exploring parts of my base city that I haven’t in the past. (I arbitrarily posted on Instagram every day in April, and most of those were San Francisco latergrams, so many people reached out to me thinking I had moved to SF. Nope! I just hadn’t gone out very much in April. 😅)

INFINITE KUSAMA // I cannot believe that I was able to see Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit at the Hirshhorn a second time, and this time it was through my own tickets! I’ve been trying to get tickets literally every single Monday since the ticketing system opened up, but every week ended with disappointment. BUT I finally was able to get them AND they were for an early morning slot, so I brought Ben and my friend Vivian to see Kusama for the last time on Monday, as her exhibit will be leaving DC and headed to the next destination for her tour. I’ll try to put together a dedicated post with photos and a video if possible, but if you’re able to catch Infinite Kusama when it comes to your city, I highly highly recommend it. It’s a bit stressful with the lines and the short time limits in each room, but it is really accessible art and I find a lot of peace in the patterns that helped calm the artist’s mind.

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“All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins” – Yayoi Kusama, 2016

TIM GUNN & DISCO FASHION // On Tuesday, the Library of Congress hosted Tim Gunn to talk about the fashion of disco as part of their month-long celebration of disco fashion, history, music, and culture. I got there early because my ticket had some nonsense about “ticket does not guarantee admission, we recommend arriving 30-45 minutes before doors open” but almost bailed because I was not in the mood for that nonsense, ya know? I don’t even watch Project Runway! I was thinking this and singing a little bit under my breath (I think it was “Till There Was You”, if you were curious) and it was an absolutely perfect day, weather-wise. The Library of Congress is this gorgeous building, and I was glad to see there was no line winding outside yet, so I started hurrying towards the entrance. As I walked up the steps, I noticed a few meters in front of me were a man and a woman. As I got closer and closer, with my hustlin’ pace, I realized:

I was walking about 10 feet behind Tim Gunn.
To go to see Tim Gunn speak at an event.

No one paid me much mind? They didn’t ask me to back up, and I feel like if I wanted to, I might have even been able to just walk through the staff-only door that he and his handlers went through. There was a funny incident at the security check, where the security guard asked for a handshake from Tim Gunn because he and his wife were fans… but I had my arms out waiting for him to wave the metal detector wand over me… and it was a wee bit awkward. (Also awkward: me trying not to bother Mr. Gunn because celebrities are people too, so instead of asking for a photo or anything I just said “thaaaank you…. and hiiiiiiiii~” when he held the door open for me.)

He was SUPER hilarious. While he only briefly talked about disco and how the fashion was a very logical progression from the 60s and how important disco was for people in terms of finding acceptance no matter what, I learned a lot about Tim Gunn like:

  • He comes from a background in academia, and didn’t even study fashion in school.
  • He hates leggings as pants.
  • His feelings towards the Kardashians? Disdain.
  • Ditto for the current White House administration.
  • He and Anna Wintour are arch-nemeses and he is not ever invited to the Met Gala because he once told the New York Post that the most outrageous thing he ever saw at a fashion show was Anna Wintour being carried down 5 flights of stairs. To be clear, he wasn’t trying to imply that she couldn’t work a Manolo and understood that this was the quickest way for her to get to the next show without waiting for the elevator, as no one in 6-inch Manolos can beat security guards down 5 flights of stairs.
  • He once met Vivian Vance at the FBI headquarters when J. Edgar Hoover was the director. Later, when it came out that Hoover was a cross-dresser, he realized that he never met Vivian Vance…
  • He adores Heidi Klum. But not his other Project Runway judges.

He was so well-spoken and charming and funny and thoughtful and kind. I really have a greater respect for how honest and genuine Tim Gunn is and will keep an eye out for his future endeavors for sure! In the meantime, disco on.

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Also I was OBSESSED with that white skirt in the background. I spent half the interview staring at it.

HISTORY ON FOOT – LINCOLN ASSASSINATION WALKING TOUR // I was invited by my Instagram friend Albert to an instameet at the Ford’s Theatre. It’s a walking tour that takes you through downtown DC to several key locations that are settings for the conspiracy that was President Lincoln’s assassination. I cannot recommend this tour enough, as it’s led by a fantastic actor who does all these great voices for different people’s testimonies of the evening, and the walk itself is really lovely. I learned so much about Lincoln’s assassination and US history in general like:

  • The General Post Office building (now the Hotel Monaco) was the first all-marble building constructed in DC and housed the first public telegraph office.
  • The term “lobbyist” was coined in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, from which you can see the White House, the Capitol, and the Washington Monument.
  • While Mary Surratt was the first woman to be executed by the federal government for delivering a package for John Wilkes Booth (the man who shot Lincoln), her son, John Surratt, who was one of the lead conspirators, escaped trial and execution twice and died at the ripe old age of 72. Tsk tsk.
  • The Treasury Building’s basement is meant to survive an attack on the capital in the event of an emergency. It is where the president and other high-ranking government representatives would have been evacuated to.
  • Tad Lincoln found out about his father’s assassination a few blocks away, while attending a different show at a different theater, when someone burst into the theater in the middle of the show and shouted that the president had been shot.

There was so much to learn but I don’t want to spoil all the details of the assassination for you. If you have an interest in US history and especially if you’re interested in Lincoln’s assassination and the conspiracy surrounding it, book this tour. (It’s a little over 1.5 miles, 2 hours, at $17.)

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Adjacent to Ford’s Theatre is Star Saloon, where John Wilkes Booth stopped for a drink right before shooting President Lincoln

That was my week! I’m wearing my Star Wars shirt today and listening to a lot of John Williams at work. Have a great Friday and weekend everyone!

What do you have coming up this weekend?
What are some DC things that I should do next?
I really felt a deep love for the District this week because of the beautiful weather and the amazing fun events I got to do here that I can only do here.
Do you take advantage of the unique fun your town/city offers? (Tell me how if you do!)

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Tartine & Walt Disney Family Museum | SF 2017

Last time on SF 2017, I enjoyed delicious seafood in the Ferry Building and had fun at the Exploratorium: After Dark with an old friend. This time, another day of solo adventuring!


One spot that was fairly strongly recommended to me to try out was Tartine, so I figured I’d try to avoid hanger by going to this crazy-popular bakery for some pastries. Even though I hate waiting in line…

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… there I was, in this sloooow-moving line, hiding my face from the people taking photographs of the not-even-that-crazy-but-still-embarrassing-to-be-part-of line. Eventually, I inched and inched and inched my way into the bakery, to the register, and even to my own little table in the corner to enjoy some pastries!

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Morning bun
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Lemon cream tart
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Luckily, a pair got up and I was able to snag this teeny corner table!

In general, I’d say it’s not worth the wait. The pastries were yummy but there is just no way to justify the long wait. When lines get that long, I expect to have my mind blown and mine simply wasn’t. I won’t be going back, it just isn’t worth the effort. (And I was pretty disappointed they were out of the almond frangipane croissants so early in the day.)

After nibbling on my pastries, I was a bit off-schedule because of the crazy line but I was finally off to go visit the Walt Disney Family Museum.

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I’ve been eager to come back to San Francisco because, during my last visit, I didn’t realize I spent the day really close to this museum! In fact, I didn’t know about this museum at all until I got back home and was using a map to visualize where I had been when I spotted this landmark on the map.

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Among Disney’s many awards are his Academy awards, including the unique Seven Dwarves-inspired one

This museum is amazing. It’s definitely a great museum for adult fans of Disney animations and of Walt himself, of course. You get a really in-depth look at his life, from his family tree to his death, and all the trials and tribulations in between. I learned a lot about Walter Elias Disney and the company that he started that I definitely did not know prior to walking through the museum. I’m only sharing about half the photos I took, and I tried to restrain myself to not take too many photos as well, to give you some small idea of the breadth and depth of the exhibits. When my mom hoards items from my childhood (old clothes, school projects, etc.) and tells me she wants to put them in my “museum” someday, I laugh, but looking at the thorough records of Disney’s life makes me wonder who was hoarding all of these things from his life, even prior to his animations.

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A collection of Disney’s cartoons from his school days in Kansas City
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This was one of my favorites: “I am too fat to fight and I guess there is nothing I can do help win this war.” “Why don’t you stop eating so much and save food for our boys over there. And you will reduce so you can fight.” SAVAGE.

I cannot recommend this museum enough if you are a fan of animation, of Walt Disney, of Disney animated films, of Disneyland, of early live-action Disney films, or just of this particular time in American history that produced one of the most iconic figures of modern American history and the most recognizable cartoon character in the world.

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Ub Iwerks was the primary animator for Steamboat Willie, known for the quality of his animations and the quantity. He animated the first Mickey Mouse picture (Plane Crazy) singlehandedly and supposedly churned out 700 drawings in one day – a figure that remains legendary to this day. Here are just a few of the frames that comprise Steamboat Willie, with a few panels actually coming to life through animation.

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A few of the earliest-known drawings of Mickey Mouse

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Some of the earliest-known mass-produced Mickey Mouse merchandise

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I loved the themed foods at Walt’s studio restaurant

There was a curator talk about how Walt and his team were important ambassadors to South America at a time when the US government didn’t want the spread of Communism so close to home. I walked through the exhibit about this time (it’s where Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros comes from!) and then waited for the curator.

Well… I got a private talk. There was no one else there, so the curator spoke to me about all the work that Disney did to foster good relations with our South American neighbors. A few people edged by at some points but most just kept walking. I didn’t intend to stay for as long as I did, and the one-on-one nature of the talk made me a little uncomfortable to be honest!, but it was too rude for me to also move on given that I was the sole audience of the talk. Plus, I learned a lot about the nature of foreign relations at the time and where the research for The Three Cabelleros came from, as this was a movie that puzzled me a lot whenever I watched it as a child.

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One of the biggest things I learned was that Disney’s animators actually went on strike for a long time, ceasing all operations and nearly ruining the company and the man

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I loved seeing how involved the animation studios were with the war effort
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To add to the list of “What Can’t Walt Do?”, he was really into miniatures and hand-crafted this train car himself when a teeny train was built that could bear the weight of adults (although any adult looked ridiculous riding on it). He just casually and meticulously created this train and the to-scale furniture inside. Very casual.
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The original proposal for Disneyland

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This gorgeous, moving diorama of Disneyland was pretty magical
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You may remember that I love the Carousel of Progress, as it’s the only ride at Disney World that Walt himself oversaw the design and production of.

I started rushing through the museum, as I felt I was dilly-dallying through the exhibits, and I didn’t want to miss anything with closing time fast-approaching. But before I knew it…

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Walter Elias Disney had passed away. And while I knew this, in the back of my head, I was still kind of taken aback when I reached this portion of the museum. He was doing so much: he was trying to open a ski resort (!!), he had put out Mary Poppins, he was doing amazing things with live action films, he was getting ready to start work on Disney World…

… and then he was gone. And I felt a bit floored by grief, sitting in this museum. As Walt’s activities ramped up in quantity, with the parks and the movies and the television shows and more, I felt myself going through faster to make sure I didn’t miss any of it. And I was forced to stop and slow down and take in the fact that the museum was over, that his life ended, and the world was no where near ready for that when it happened. Just as I wasn’t really ready for the whole experience to be over when I reached the end.

I walked through the gift shop in a bit of a daze, unsure of how to step back out into the beautiful sunny day at the Presidio.

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The view from the museum is top-notch.

Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery Street (in the Presidio)
San Francisco, CA 94129
415.345.6800
http://waltdisney.org/

Admission: $25/adult, $30 with film ticket
Hours: 10am – 6pm except Tuesdays and some holidays


Do you know what I mean when I set such a high bar for a place with a long line? I know it’s a bit unfair, but a long line means the expectations are just much higher. I wanted to go to Golden Gate Bakery, but they were actually on vacation during my visit! I am a bit concerned that Tartine is considered one of the best bakeries in SF, though, because I really wasn’t wowed by the flavors? Where should I have gone for baked goods if you don’t think Tartine is a good representative of SF pastries?

Have you ever visited a museum dedicated to a person? I once visited a Freud museum when my family visited Vienna almost 15 years ago, but otherwise I don’t visit too many person-centric museums. Maybe I should visit more? Do you have any recommendations?

Hog Island + After Dark | SF 2017

Last time on SF 2017, I spent a lovely day exploring the California Academy of Sciences at my own leisurely pace after an evening and morning of being very hangry. With a day of museum-ing behind me, the hanger was beginning to settle in yet again…


Before I set out for San Francisco, I asked for recommendations for food, knowing that I would be overwhelmed by options in one of the great food cities in this country. While my friends kept their recommendations for me unique, the only place multiple people urged me to visit was Hog Island Oyster Company over in the Ferry Building. In fact, about 5 people recommended that, despite that lines, despite the hype, despite how it had become a tourist trap, I must visit Hog Island and eat oysters.

Yes, there were lines, but I have to give a shout-out to the hostess who seated me at the bar and kept a seat next to me open so that my boyfriend could join me (over an hour later!). She is the real MVP. (So is Ben, who put up with me [h]angrily miscommunicating with him over the phone about when he would show up. Thank you for being so patient with me!)

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Yes, $14 for a bowl of clam chowder is a little nuts, but it was the best clam chowder I’ve ever tasted. I ordered this when I sat down and tried so so hard to leave some for Ben to try when he was able to join me after his work obligations let him go. The little itty bitty bit of soup I left for him was long-cold but still really tasty.

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The oysters were good. I don’t think I was actually as wow-ed by them as I was by the chowder, but they were really good and definitely hit the spot as I had been craving them for some time. I can never keep track of what each type is when the server describes them to me, but I slurped down every single one happily.

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From the Ferry Building, Ben and I wandered along a few of the nearby piers and stopped at Pier 9 for a little impromptu photoshoot. Comment below with your guess for how many takes it took for me to get my Gene Kelly moment, because it was a LOT. (The lamppost had no place for me to put my foot, so I was engaging my whole body just trying to stay up there…)

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We parted ways so that I could meet up with one of my friends from high school, David, who I haven’t actually seen since he showed up at my high school graduation. “Catching up” was funny because when he asked “Wow, how long has it been, what do we need to catch up on?” I said, “Well… everything.” While we hung out plenty in high school, it was always in a group setting and never in a particularly personal one. This was the first time we got to talk one-on-one and the first time we were talking about our own lives rather than something [high] school-related. It was really nice and if I wasn’t already happy that David reached out to me out of the blue, I ended the evening feeling so grateful to have him as a friend because he’s really fantastic. In fact, I was a little sad that I was learning this so late and knowing that we wouldn’t hang out for a long time. (Hopefully not as long as the gap between now and high school.)

Fun fact: David makes these awesome build videos where he DIYs really cool stuff. Highly recommend checking them out!

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David and I hung out at the Exploratorium: After Dark, which is another weekly, Thursday evening adults-only museum event. I don’t have many photos because I spent most of the time taking video (which I will hopefully be able to show you all sometime soon?) but it really is so much fun as an adult to visit a museum without a lot of children running around. Especially for a place like the Exploratorium, which is made up of mostly interactive exhibits, it’s nice to not feel like you are taking away from some kid’s fun day in order to play with the toys available. The science at the Exploratorium is actually really interesting and very solid. Christine‘s Yelp review of this place was right: it’s a really good date spot, so I realized afterwards that it was funny to be here with a guy friend who I was getting to know on a personal level for the first time. (It felt a little bit like a first date, especially with the walk around the Embarcadero after!) But the Exploratorium was really awesome, and I can’t wait to share the footage I got during my time there.

Exploratorium: After Dark
Every Thursday, 6-10pm
$15 general admission; $10 additional for tactile dome admission
Pier 15 (Embarcadero Green Street)
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 528-4444
https://www.exploratorium.edu/visit/calendar/after-dark

Must be 18+ to enter

When After Dark ended, David and I walked to the bar where Ben and his co-workers were sampling whiskeys before calling it a night. I went to bed grateful for the delicious seafood in my belly, for the fun hands-on science I got to play with, and for reconnecting with a really amazing old friend.


Do you like adults-only days/hours at the museum? I know that the Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences both have one every Thursday in San Francisco, but I’d like to learn about similar events at other museums in other cities!

Where is the best seafood you’ve had? I attempted to go vegetarian when I was in middle school, but if I were to try again I could not give up seafood for sure. Tell me where you love to eat seafood! Especially where I can compare clam chowder and oysters. (My favorite are $1 oysters!)

California Academy of Sciences | SF 2017

After working very hard, Ben had the opportunity to present a talk at a tech conference in San Francisco last month. We were all so proud of him for reaching this great career milestone, but I got even more excited when he extended the invite to stay in his company-expensed hotel room with him! I had a lot of fun the last time I visited and didn’t want it to be another dozen years before I got to return, and there were things I had been mentally adding to a to-do list since leaving San Francisco in September, so I was all too happy to take a few days to unwind and enjoy the city by the bay.


Wednesday evening, I flew out west, my first time flying with Virgin/Alaskan, ready to feel the effects of the time change during my stay but determined to be chill and relaxed in an attempt to get over my burnout. (Spoiler alert: I remain not great at chill and relaxed.)

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I landed later than expected land got to the hotel… completely starving out of my mind? I was really hangry because I had a large, late lunch and had zero interest in eating before my flight, despite the fact that my flight departed at 6pm. (You ever try working up an appetite looking at a Chipotle while a giant burger sits in your belly?) So, unfortunately for Ben, I landed really cranky from hunger, and by the time I got to the hotel, I had no interest in doing anything but curling up to hangrily sleep. (Fun fact: We were back at the SF Marriott Marquis, the same hotel we stayed in over Labor Day weekend! It was nice to be back among familiar surroundings.)

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Thursday morning rolled around, and Ben, in a noble attempt to placate my by-now really unreasonable hunger and crankiness, took me to the hotel breakfast buffet so that I could fill up on as much food as I could muster. I felt a lot better after stuffing my face for a while, and Ben was able to fully relax knowing that his talk was done and his girlfriend was not glowering while struggling to stay upright.

Since Ben still had work obligations, we planned to not really see each other until the weekend, so I had planned full days for myself to enjoy solo during the weekdays in SF. He went off to work and I took myself to the California Academy of Sciences.

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The California Academy of Sciences is a pretty spectacular institution. You can visit a planetarium, aquarium, and natural history museum all under one roof!

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I spent some time walking around and getting my bearings before being drawn into the Osher Rainforest, a 90-foot-high rainforest housed in a stunning glass dome. From there, you can experience three levels of rainforest life while butterflies fluttery by around you.

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As of about a week before I visited, they just installed a little cocoon box so you could see moths and butterflies emerging from their chrysalises. It was literally a brand-new addition to the rainforest exhibit here, so it was exciting to see! Also, I really love butterflies and how at peace I feel with them fluttering around. When I was growing up, one of my favorite place to visit was the Bronx Zoo, which I called the “Butterfly Zoo” because I only have memories of being in the butterfly house there and spending all of my zoo time in there.

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A blurry shot of a bird we saw eating a butterfly. It was a messy eater and bits of butterfly wing almost landed in my hair…

After you get to the top of the dome, you take an elevator down, down, to see the flooded rainforest and the flora + fauna that live there. This is also where you can get a closer look at Claude, the famous albino alligator.

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From there, you can proceed further to the aquarium portion of this museum. I have loved loved loved aquariums since I first watched The Little Mermaid and the one at the California Academy of Sciences is no exception! There’s just something really magical about being eye-level with the wonders of the water, lit by blue and violet lights that just make everything seem calm and peaceful, if only for a moment.

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When I finally emerged from under the sea, there was still so much more of the museum to explore! I appreciated that there was a whole section dedicated to earthquakes and San Francisco + California earthquake history in particular. There is an earthquake simulator that you can stand in to experience magnitudes of the two big earthquakes to hit the city in 1906 and 1989.

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I liked that this emergency kit included Chinese canned goods!
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I loved these notes because you really can’t trust the public to submit notes like this. Especially when the bulk of your visitors are field trip students.
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We had an illuminati squad here…
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“I play Pokemon Go every day”

The Tusher African Hall is one of the first things you’ll see upon entering, and it’s a quieter area where you can learn about African wildlife and the history of human evolution. At the end of the hall is a penguin tank, where you can watch an African penguin colony in a man-made habitat that was built to closely resemble their natural habitat off the coast of South Africa. I was able to catch the 3pm feeding session which I’d recommend if you want to see the penguins in action and ask questions.

As I went up through the museum, I visited the gems and minerals exhibit (where I learned a lot about the different ways that minerals manifest in our world), the naturalist center (which is a really awesome hands-on activity center that I highly highly recommend bringing kids to for an interactive way to learn a lot about a lot of different things housed in the museum), and, at the very top, the living roof, which powers the entire Academy and more.

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If I was fueled a bit better, I could’ve spent more time here, especially if I had someone to share all these amazing exhibits with. Alas, my hangriness started to kick in and even I had had my fill of exploring this awesome museum by myself, so it was time to head out and fill my belly once again. On Thursday evenings, the Academy actually hosts Nightlife, a weekly adult program for grown-ups to drink and explore the museum without kids running about and with a different theme each week. However, I had made plans to do a similar activity on the other side of town over at the Exploratorium, but I’ll tell you about that next time…

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Fun fact: These seahorses were a part of the original Academy building

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Admission: $34.95 for non-member adults, different pricing options for seniors, students, youths, and children. Tickets for the planetariums sold separately.

California Academy of Science
Golden Gate Park
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA, 94118
(415) 379-8000
http://www.calacademy.org


Do you like visiting museums when you visit other cities? I used to think it wasn’t a great use of my time, but especially for this trip, I really relished the opportunity to walk at my own pace, read every single placard like I love doing, and learn new things! My favorite thing to do is to sit and soak it all in. Museums are one of my favorite things about humanity, so to take in these monuments to history and achievement and science is really moving for me. In aquariums, especially, I like being able to sit in front of the largest tank in the joint and people-watch and fish-watch.

What are you favorite thing to see in science museums, natural history museums, and aquariums? I can’t really pick, but aquariums have a special place in my heart because I’ve loved the ocean since The Little Mermaid, and I do love watching jellyfish. I swear I can feel my blood pressure lower and my heart rate slow when I watch jellyfish pulsing through the water.

The Capital Museum

Part of the reason that my mom is now telling everyone how much I love museums is that I did get to visit 2 great museums while I was in Beijing: The National Museum of China and the Capital Museum. While the National Museum is dedicated to the entire history of China and its people, the Capital Museum focuses on Beijing, the capital city, and art.

And as I mentioned before, this is another free museum, so bring your passport and take advantage of the immense amount of art and culture that is available if you have a few hours.

Capital Museum (首都博物馆)

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Again, I didn’t take many photos and had a limited amount of time in this museum, but I really enjoyed learning about specific cultural aspects of Beijing and, in turn, China while exploring the Capital Museum.

There was an exhibit on Peking opera that I found really fascinating, a super cool exhibit about Old Beijing and the hutong life that used to thrive in the capital, an exhibit on imperial culture from China’s seat of power, and so many galleries of sculpture, calligraphy, painting, jade, porcelain. Did you know that the Chinese had a system of producing furniture so as to not use a single nail to keep the pieces together?

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I loved the snapshot in time here with the double happiness candles and this antique camera
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A marriage sedan that I photographed because I was unsure of how long I needed to spend in the “Beijing wedding customs” section of the museum while friends back home kept getting engaged

There was also a temporary exhibit I saw about Tibetan yaks and how important they were to the people of Tibet. My aunts were really excited to see this, as I think the exhibit left shortly after I did, and it’s not something that many people are able to see up close but folks know a bit about it. The size of the skulls and horns that were on display were unreal when you thought about just the sheer size of these beasts and how much a people’s livelihood depended on them.

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An example of a yurt
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Piles of (fake) yak dung patties that act as fuel

This museum had fewer English placards than the other one, and fewer Chinese ones than I would have expected, but there was a lot of history and art and culture jam-packed into the Capital Museum, and I do recommend a visit if you’d like to learn a bit more about the history and culture and art of Beijing when you visit!

Admission: FREE – citizens need their ID and non-nationals need to bring a passport

Capital Museum


http://en.capitalmuseum.org.cn


What are some aspects of Beijing-specific culture that you’re familiar with? I know a little bit about Peking opera and visited a hutong the last time I was in Beijing but it was cool to learn just a little bit more! I was on the lookout for a big food exhibit but alas, no such luck during my visit!

What other museums in Beijing do you think are worth visiting?