Monday 7 May – Monday 14 May 2018
With the strong flavour of its 176 embassies, its numerous international financial headquarters, its linear imperial city plan with magnificent architecture to boot, and the truly breath-taking quality of its fine art, heritage and science collections, Washington DC is unmatched anywhere in the world. Here, in the huge National Archives, are the original copies of the Declaration of Independence by which the 13 colonies separated themselves from the Great Britain in 1776 and the Constitution with its problematic clauses and amendments. Here is the presidential residence, burnt by the British in 1812 and rebuilt as a crystalline and understated Neoclassical ‘country house’. Here, the Smithsonian’s American History Museum where the capital’s narrative begins with drawing of its layout by Pierre L’Enfant, is tactfully positioned in a specially created ‘District of Columbia’ so as not to offend either the northern or southern states. Here, too, we seek greater understanding of the United States as an uneasy polyglot society: through visits, especially, to both the National Museum of the American Indian, and the timely superb new African-American Museum. Here, too, are some of the grandest and most beautiful memorials ever built viscerally dominating the huge green space of the Mall: the thrusting obelisk of the Washington Monument, still the world’s tallest stone structure; the Jefferson Memorial, gleaming like an ancient temple; the Lincoln Memorial, with the weary figure of Lincoln set against the etched words of his Gettysburg address, and the unforgettable Vietnam War Memorial. Here, too, the very essence of the classic enlightened Capital is expressed through one of the greatest art collections in the world, the National Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian with 4,000 masterpieces from all over the world (vs. National Gallery London with 2000); and the National Museum of American Art, whose eye-opening paintings eloquently express proud independence from European influence. There are smaller unique collection museums, too – the glorious Phillips Museum beloved for its sun-filled Renoir ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’, or the Hirshhorn with its art of the post–World War II period, and the Kreeger Museum with true masterpieces by artists of the 19c and 20c. As we step off an elevator into the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the brutalist State Department, we are transported, as only in America we could be, into glorious 18c interiors. This Inscape American tour will tell the thrilling story of how a great Capital City encompasses and expresses the needs and aspirations of all the nation’s peoples. It may not always succeed, but what heroism there is in the material evidence of aspiration!
COST £2695 members, £2745 non-members, £495 Single Room Supplement, £350 deposit, including private transfer from and to Washington Dulles airport, 6 nights’ accommodation in the Hotel Lombardy, opening drink, all breakfasts, four dinners with wine, all transport within Washington DC, all entries and guided tours, all private visits, tuition, services, tips, VAT. Price excludes flights. If you would like help booking your flight online, please phone the office.