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Inaugural Exhibits, Events, Etc.

Friday, January 17, 1997; Page WK08

It happens every four years: the inaugural tide that lifts all boats. Washington's museums, galleries, hotels and restaurants put together exhibits and offerings that they wouldn't dream of having (and you wouldn't dream of attending) unless there was an inauguration. But for the political junkie or the inaugural completist, they are sublime—the perfect opportunity to gorge yourself on presidential history. Here are some of them:


NEH HAILS THE CHIEFS January is inauguration month, and local organizations are featuring special exhibits focusing on the presidency. The National Endowment for the Humanities has set up a free exhibit at the Old Post Office Pavilion through mid-March. Ten presidents are examined in a mix of images, photos and text featuring quotations from the presidents and scholars who have studied them. NEH's involvement in the study and preservation of presidential papers and artifacts also is examined. 202-606-8671.

MOUNT VERNON remembers the "First Inauguration" with costumed interpreters and guides recalling the events leading up to the first inaugural, tours of the dining room where George Washington learned of his election and other activities, through Jan. 26 from 11 to 3 daily (estate open 9 to 4 daily). $8, $7.50 for seniors and $4 for children ages 6 through 11 (younger free). On the southern end of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, 16 miles south of Washington. Call 703/780-2000.

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES celebrates the Inauguration with several special exhibits: "The Oath of Office," a display of one page of the 1787 printed draft of the Constitution showing changes, in George Washington's hand, to the original oath of office, in the Rotunda through January 26; "The First Ladies Collection: The Gowns as Documents," an illustrated lecture on Inaugural Ball gowns, by Polly Willman, senior conservator of costumes at the National Museum of American History, Wednesday at 11 in Room 105; and "Tokens and Treasures: Gifts to Twelve Presidents," a continuing exhibit of more than 200 unusual and colorful objects given to presidents from Hoover through Clinton, in the Circular Gallery through Feb. 2. The National Archives is open daily 10 to 5:30. All the programs and exhibits are free. Eighth Street and Constitution Avenue NW (Metro: Archives/Navy Memorial). 202/501-5000.

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY'S permanent exhibit "First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image" explores the role of the First Lady as hostess and public figure, with more than 500 photographs and 300 objects, from inaugural ball gowns to White House china, on the museum's second floor east wing. 10 to 5:30 daily. 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW (Metro: Federal Triangle). 202/357-2700 (TDD: 202/357-1729).

THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT is offering post-inauguration tours of the building and its many "New Deal" murals. Visitors may also wish to see the Indian sand paintings, pottery, baskets and drawings in the Bureau of Indian Affairs gallery and exhibits in the Interor Museum on fish and wildlife, Interior's role in geologic research, land management and wildlife programs. The tours are free and are offered at 10 and 2 Tuesday and Wednesday. 1849 C St. NW. The Interior Museum is open from 8 to 5 weekdays (except Inauguration Day). Admission is free, but visitors must present a photo ID. 202/208-4743.

THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY of Washington, D.C. presents "Campaign Buttons to Inaugural Balls," an exhibit featuring photographs, programs, ball invitations, dance cards, parade tickets and other campaign-related artifacts, through March 8. The society is open Wednesdays-Saturdays 10 to 4. 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW (Metro: Dupont Circle). $3 adults, $1.50 seniors, students and children. 202/785-2068.

THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY explores the society's relationships with presidents in "National Geographic and the White House: Crossing Paths for More than a Century," an exhibit that includes photographs, maps, medals and old film clips, through Jan. 30. Free. Monday-Saturday 9 to 5, Sunday 10 to 5. 17th and M streets NW (Metro: Farragut North) 202/857-7588.

THE PAVILION at the Old Post Office features "Hail to the Chief: Presidents, Power and Politics," a display of photographs, banners, film clips and other items on presidents Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Polk, Grant, Roosevelt (both Theodore and FDR), Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson, through March 14. Free. Open daily 9 to 9. 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. (Metro: Federal Triangle). 202/606-8671.

WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL presents "So Help Me God," an exhibit of the official inaugural bibles, the handwritten copy of George Bush's inaugural speech, George Washington's family bible, a Rembrandt Peale portrait of Washington and photographs of presidents at the cathedral, through Aug. 28 in the cathedral's Rare Book Library. Free admission. Mondays-Saturdays 10 to 4, Sundays 1 to 4. Wisconsin and Massachusetts avenues NW. 202/537-6200.

KATHLEEN EWING GALLERY presents "Presidents & Politics: Vintage and Contemporary Photographs and Drawings," Friday through Wednesday (except Sunday) from noon to 5 at 1609 Connecticut Ave. NW (Metro: Dupont Circle). Free; 202/328-0955.

THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL will display the Robert L. White Collection of John F. Kennedy memorabilia, including the gold watch he wore at his inauguration, his Hermes alligator briefcase and his Oval Office humidor, Friday through Monday 24 hours a day in the lobby. Free. 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202/944-2074.

PERRY HOUSE GALLERIES has the "American Experience: The Nation's Unofficial Presidential Inauguration Exhibition," a display of 60 works by 52 artists from across the nation and Canada, Tuesdays-Fridays from 10 to 6, Saturdays from 11 to 5, Sundays noon to 5 through March 1 at 1017 Duke St., Alexandria. Free. 703/836-5148.

THE COLLECTOR RESTAURANT and Art Gallery presents the "Arkansas Inaugural Exhibition," works by 25 Arkansas artists in honor of the Clinton-Gore inaugural, daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (opening reception Saturday 5 to 11; reservations required) through Feb. 25. Dupont Plaza Hotel, 1500 New Hampshire Ave. NW (Metro: Dupont Circle). 202/232-3650.

ART ON THE 7TH FLOOR — Works by artists from every state and the District of Columbia are on display in the "American Inaugural Art Exhibit" through Feb. 28 at the Washington Design Center, 300 D St. SW (Metro: Federal Center). Open daily except Sundays from 10 to 5. Admission is free. A benefit reception for the Clinton Cultural Campus: A Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Hot Springs, Ark., is Sunday from 4:30 to 7:30. Tickets are $50; call 800/494-8497. For other information, call 202/479-2572.

THE OLD WOODWARD & LOTHROP building at 11th and G streets NW (Metro: Metro Center) is displaying historic inaugural photos in its windows through January. The photographs, courtesy of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., depict the inaugural balls of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, the parades of Grover Cleveland and Howard Taft, the addresses of William McKinley, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln, the oaths of office of James K. Polk and Martin Van Buren; the processions of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lincoln and Buchanan, and the inaugurations of Herbert Hoover, James Garfield and Cleveland. Free. 202/289-0584.


PRESIDENTS' INAUGURAL Tea Party, featuring George Washington's Cherry Shortbread, William Taft's Irish Whiskey Fruit Tarts, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression Applesauce Cakes and other presidential delights culled from historic documents and the First Families' own recipes, offered daily in January from 3 to 5 at the Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The tea is $13.25; a children's menu is available. For reservations, 202/324-0444.

OPEN HOUSE at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Monday—Inauguration Day—from 12:30 to 2:30 at the museum at 1250 New York Ave. NW (Metro: Metro Center). Hot cider and donuts will be served on the mezzanine. Free. 202/783-5000.

— Larry Fox

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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