Visiting Washington, D.C. with my husband for the annual meeting of the National Academy of Engineering, I found myself residing at the historic Mayflower Hotel for the first time. Nearby, was the National Geographic Museum and across the street was a charming restaurant, Le DeSales. The White House was not far away.
This presented me with a great opportunity to visit to the National Geographic Museum and see the current exhibits. The National Geographic Society was instrumental in the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and in finding the Titanic, an in-depth exploration. While the restoration project was multimedia and immersive, the Titanic Exhibit presented information about the ship, those who were on it, the people who located it and many stories, such that I almost felt I was there.
My museum experience began with a trip to Jerusalem, or that is what it felt like. The combination of video, moving through different spaces, and the use of three D glasses showed a scene that took me back to the actual experience of being in the same location many years earlier. The description of the way in which this Church serves many religions at the same time, and the process of cleaning and restoring the dangerous parts of the structure were fascinating.
Following that was and description of how various scientific techniques such as sound waves helped to plan and execute this project.
Built in the fourth century, the tomb of Christ, or the Holy Edicule, has just undergone a historic restoration—a project that captured the attention of the world and is featured in National Geographic magazine and on the National Geographic channel in addition to the exhibit at the Museum. In the exhibition, the restoration effort led by an interdisciplinary team of conservation experts from the National Technical University in Athens led by Chief Scientific Supervisor, ANTONIA MOROPOULOU, who used new technologies including LIDAR, sonar, laser scanning, and thermal imaging to preserve this important site was captivating.
The National Geographic Society was also responsible for locating and exploring The Titanic. This exhibit is compelling in the explanations, models, and “sets” that brought the viewer into the experience of those who were on The Titanic. There is discussion of how many perished but also, those who survived. Stories of the divers, the movies, and much more come to life.
The exhibition reveals the surprising link between a top-secret Cold War mission and the 1985 discovery of the sunken Titanic by legendary oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large Robert Ballard. This exhibit was developed in collaboration with the National Archives and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, “Titanic” reveals the remarkable—and long-classified—story behind the historic discovery.
This exhibition is extensive and it revealed the height of transatlantic steamship travel. The displays of items from the luxurious ocean liner and the stories—many told for the first time—of some aboard the ship on its tragic maiden voyage, were moving and heart rending. There are incredible images and artifacts, like the coat worn by Titanic survivor Marion Wright Woolcott, and never-before-exhibited ship and expedition memorabilia, including the 8,000-pound crew module from the submersible Ballard and team used to survey the shipwreck.
Foe more information, check:national geographic exhibitions
In the evening, my husband and I discovered the heights of a charming restaurant off the beaten path, Le de Sales
Photos: B. Keer unless otherwise noted.