Beyond Obama's oath, what to see and taste in DC
The Smithsonian American Art Museum has gathered some of the best artwork from the Civil War era. At the Library of Congress, curators are displaying firsthand accounts of the war through diaries, letters and Lincoln's first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, which is on display for a limited time.
Many museums will be open for special hours on inauguration day. A few will open early for visitors to keep warm on the National Mall.
Where to Reflect
The newest memorial in Washington is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It's sure to draw a big crowd as this year's inauguration falls on the King holiday. The site opened to visitors in 2011 and features a towering statue of the slain civil rights leader, along with quotations from his speeches and sermons. National Park Service officials plan to erase one inscription at the memorial because it wasn't historically accurate, but they postponed the work until after the inauguration.
The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials are among the most scenic for visitors and are sure to draw huge crowds. The Washington Monument, however, was closed to visitors after it was damaged in a 2011 earthquake. It will likely remain closed until 2014.
Ford's Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated, opened a new education center in 2012 with exhibits on Lincoln's legacy.
Where to Escape
For a break from politics and presidents, the city has planned other attractions and festivals to accommodate the inauguration crowd.
From Friday through Sunday, the National Museum of the American Indian is hosting a multicultural festival with music, dance and storytelling from a variety of cultural traditions.
The National Gallery of Art is displaying Michelangelo's masterpiece "David-Apollo," on loan from Italy, as it did for Harry Truman's inaugural reception in 1949.
The Kennedy Center is featuring a new ballet with "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," produced by the National Ballet of Canada and London's Royal Ballet. At last check, tickets were still available, ranging from $45 to $150.
Washington also has historical sites away from the beaten path for visitors who want to get away from the crowds. President Lincoln's Cottage was where the 16th president escaped for much of his time in Washington and where he drafted the Emancipation Proclamation. It's located in a residential neighborhood on the campus of the Old Soldiers Home and is open for visitors to walk in the footsteps of the Lincoln family.
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass also had a home in Washington on a hilltop overlooking the city. It's operated now as a National Historic Site in the Anacostia neighborhood.
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