Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Other Washington

The other day I toured the reading rooms, vaults, and conservation lab at the Folger Shakespeare Library. I picked up a copy of the summer issue of their magazine, which has an interesting extract from Hamlet’s Blackberry about writing tables (table books). (On the same day I visited the Library of Congress across the street. I always enjoy browsing Jefferson’s (reconstructed) library.)

I’ve been in D.C. for the SAA conference, which has been really good. (Although we’re in one of those complex hotels that seems like Borges’s Library of Babel—but without the books. Fortunately, guides have been stationed throughout.)

Before last night’s reception, at the National Museum of American History, I took the picture below of the Smithsonian Institute Castle. The man memorialized by the statue is Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian. This is ironic, because he hated to see the money from the Smithson bequest squandered on what he called a “norman cenotaph.”