Thursday, April 30, 2015

A break from enigmas

The release of a new novel is a whirlwind of activity (of which the occasional blog or FB post is only a small part). Releasing a novel in serial form? An N-part serial, I've been learning, takes almost N-times the effort of "merely" a book.

To remind myself that there is life outside of new-book promotion -- and to save my sanity -- I took a break last weekend in downtown DC. The highlight of that break was a visit to the National Building Museum.

The Pension Building
The building now home to the building museum (recursive, to be sure) was completed in 1887. It first served as headquarters of the Pension Bureau (a precursor to the modern Veterans Administration, serving Union veterans of the Civil War), and is commonly known as the Pension Building.

This is an enormous, all-brick (15 million bricks, more or less) structure that borrows design and ornamental elements from the Parthenon, Trajan's Column, and Italian Renaissance palazzos. The building all but fills a city block.

The Great Hall
That is: it's huge. And beautiful. As witness, check out the images nearby. The Great Hall measures 316 by 116 feet -- or five-sixths of an acre.

The Great Hall, as you can see, is magnificent. Inaugural balls have been held here. (Those marble columns, BTW, aren't. They're brick, three feet thick, covered in terra cotta, and painted to look like marble.)

The one major exhibit I toured was excellent (some exhibits were off limits that day, due to a craft show sprawling across the main hall). And the docent-led historical/architectural tour was just excellent. Our 45-minute tour lasted 75 minutes, as the volunteer was happy -- and able -- to field all questions.

A close-up of the frieze
Highly recommended.

Next post, we're back to the InterstellarNet: Enigma roll-out ...

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