The Bead Museum in Washington, DC December 30, 2006

I’m back in Los Angeles after three weeks on the East Coast, which was super fun but ended with an unexpected five-day internet vacation… so now that we’ve picked up the mail, done some grocery shopping (including champagne for tomorrow night, yay) and unpacked, I’m finally back online.

When we were in Maryland last week, Andrew and I came into the city for one afternoon. I got to choose what to do first and picked the Bead Museum as our first stop. It’s just a few blocks from the Smithsonian museums on the Mall, so it was an easy walk over from the subway, and I was so glad we got to check it out. I’ve been making jewelry for twenty years (!) and I’ve never seen anything quite like it!

The Bead Museum in Washington, DC

The museum is small, so an hour is plenty of time to see everything, and their collection is very cool. The permanent exhibit is a timeline of bead history, starting around 70,000 BCE, with hundreds of examples of shell, glass, wood, bone, semiprecious, and plastic pieces to look at… tracing the progression is so interesting. Their current show, The Sacred Bead, is well worth a visit — it highlights sacred jewelry from six major religions. (I didn’t take photographs since the pieces are on loan from private collections, but the museum has some pictures of the exhibit here.) There’s a library and shop to browse, too — I picked up a handy guide to bead shops in the DC area (next time!) and a few strands of glass beads for me and Julian to play with.

Afterwards, we saw a The Streets of New York: American Photographs from the Collection, 1938-1958 at the National Gallery and then raced over to Air and Space to see all the astronaut stuff. It was so hard to choose which museums to visit — I was so tempted by the Museum of the American Indian and the Hirshhorn, which are both right there too. Next time for sure.

If you go:

The Bead Museum
400 Seventh St NW
Washington, DC 20004

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