If you’re missing museums and looking for a fun way to get your “art fix,” travel no farther than National Harbor where a number of outdoor art installations are readily available for viewing and photo ops.
Wander on your own, or text ACNH to 56512 and plug into a scavenger hunt and an interactive guide to the outdoor art installations located around National Harbor. There is a wonderful combination of sculptures, statues and murals just waiting to be found. See if you can find these during your visit:
Rising from the sand at the waterfront is “The Awakening” by J. Seward Johnson. It is composed of five cast-aluminum pieces representing a human figure rising from the sand. The entire piece is more than 70 feet across. It is the centerpiece of this riverside community and a perfect place for children to play.
At the drive-in entrance is “The Beckoning,” a sculpture by internationally-renowned artist Albert Paley. Made from corten steel, this abstract structure towers 85 feet into the sky and symbolizes the emergence of this new city from the banks of the Potomac River. Paley also created the gates at the Enid Haupt Garden (Smithsonian Castle) and the National Cathedral. He is the first metal sculptor to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects, the highest award the group bestows on non-architects.
Albert Paley also created “The Eagles,” a pair of 4,500-lb stainless steel eagles overlooking the Potomac River from National Harbor’s main plaza on American Way. Perched atop 60-foot poles, each eagle’s wingspan measures fourteen feet across. They look like they’re ready to fly across the river!
Five in the Wind
Local artist Norman Green’s cast-stone statue “Five in the Wind” sits along the riverbank depicting five people leaning against each other for support on a rock against the river’s wind.
Lining the steps from the Belvedere, and reminiscent of Rome’s Spanish Steps, are two metal and two mosaic murals titled “Maryland’s Bounty.” Created by Cheryl Foster, they symbolize Maryland’s tie to the Chesapeake Bay. On the first panel, locate the Eastern shore crab picker; two giant hands holding a 6’ crab; a black crappie fish; a ship’s captain with a basket of clams and oysters; and a rockfish, the state fish of Maryland. On the second panel, look for a youth holding a basket of pumpkinseed fish, bass and a yellow perch; Carl White, the commissioned Admiral of the Chesapeake Bay holding a shipwright’s wheel; and a Boatwright (ship builder) holding oakum (tarred fiber) as he builds a ship’s deck.
Two 25’ x 6’ panels comprise Foster’s “Maryland’s Winners,” an aluminum, copper, brass and stained glass sculpture depicting famous winners. The first panel depicts the only father/son racehorse duo to win the Triple Crown (Gallant Fox in1930 and Omaha in1935).The second depicts the three oldest skipjack boats in the Maryland fleet, the skipjack being Maryland’s state boat and a symbol of the Chesapeake Bay’s heritage and culture.
Look to your feet to view the spectacular terrazzo mural on “The Belvedere” at the top of the Spanish Steps to the waterfront. The 1,600-square-foot terrazzo by artist Steven Weitzman includes more than 70 elements of local history and lore portraying the history and geography of Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. Hunt for images of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Tool de Force
Once housed at the National Building Museum, “Tool de Force” is a 12 ½-foot sculpture representing some of the tools used in the building industry. It was donated to National Harbor in 2013.
Wander away from the waterfront up American Way to be met at each block by life-sized and realistic statues of some of the people who made America the great country it is.
Bronze statues include: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Louis Armstrong, and Henry Ford. Famous quotes are etched into the sidewalk, along with fun quips like, “I cannot tell a lie, I do not want to shake your hand today” near George Washington’s outstretched hand and “Four score and six feet away,” near Lincoln.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take pictures with some of the more colorful statues located along American Way. Rosie the Riveter, Marilyn Monroe, “The Kiss,” and “Bag Lady,” will both delight and inspire you. Near the waterfront, four military statues depict the branches of our armed forces.
National Harbor, Maryland is located just across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge along the Potomac River and is a world-class dining, shopping, residential, commercial and recreational destination. It is home to the Capital Wheel, the MGM National Harbor resort, Tanger Outlets as well as its outdoor art.
All Photos credit: Linda Barrett