Whether you’re of the school that thinks it’s genius or among the naysayers who think it’s a marketing ploy for a sequel that hardly needs more hype, the Newseum’s new show is kind of a big deal. “Anchorman: The Exhibit” opens tomorrow on the Pennsylvania Avenue museum’s second floor, and contains such relics as might get Ron Burgundy himself excited: original costumes, a model of Baxter the dog sporting pajamas, Sex Panther perfume, and even Ron’s jazz flute.
The show opens five weeks before the release of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s as much a promotional device as Ben & Jerry’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch ice cream or Will Ferrell’s in-character ads for the Dodge Durango. Still, “Anchorman: The Exhibit” offers a little more than just costumes and other artifacts enshrined inside glass cases of emotion. Scenes from the first movie are cross-referenced with snippets looking at TV news history, from the way news teams were promoted as gangs of friends you’d invite into your home to the sexism frequently experienced by female reporters. There’s also a segment exploring the real-life case of Twiggy the water-skiing squirrel, which reveals how consultants urged news producers in the ’70s to whip up their ratings with animal stories and other squishy human-interest features (here’s looking at you, BuzzFeed).
Is it a thought-provoking and insightful analysis of TV news in America? No. It’s an exhibit of costumes and props from a hugely successful cult movie. Visitors can film themselves playing anchormen and anchorladies from behind a replica of the Channel 4 newsdesk, and click on a touchscreen to see Ron Burgundy offer advice to prospective newsreaders, such as: “Drink plenty of fluids, and by fluids, I mean bourbon or gin.” Some of the unexpected inclusions are the most interesting—Ron Burgundy’s wallet contains an “American Excess” credit card, and Judd Apatow’s copy of the script is so tiny it’s hard to read. But it’s the most Instagrammable exhibit of the year, and that’s really all that matters.
“Anchorman: The Exhibit” opens November 14 at the Newseum. For more information, visit the Newseum’s website.
Through October 22, Washington will have the rare distinction of having not one but two works by Leonardo da Vinci on display.
Just across the Mall from the National Gallery, where da Vinci’s “Ginevra de’ Benci” has long been the only painting by the artist in the Western hemisphere, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Air and Space is displaying da Vinci’s “Codex on the Flight of Birds,” a 1505 document featuring writings and sketches on the subject of flight.
From September 13 through October 22, visitors can catch a glimpse of the real Codex in the Wright Brothers Gallery, and scroll through touch-screen computers that translate the document’s text, written in da Vinci’s signature “mirror” script.
The document is usually kept at the Biblioteca Reale in Turin, and has only been displayed outside of Italy a handful of times. In addition to notes, it includes sketches of birds in flight, and prefigures da Vinci’s observations on how humans might mimic them to achieve mechanized flight.
The loan is one highlight from Italy US 2013: Year of Italian Culture in the United States, a cultural alliance between the US and Italy that has seen Michelangelo’s David-Apollo on display in the National Gallery and Italian poems reproduced on Washington’s buses.
Admission to see the Codex is free, but timed tickets must be booked online for the first week of its exhibition, by phone at 866-868-7774 or online. For more information, visit the Air and Space Museum’s website.
In Ellen Harvey’s Washington, tourists flock to the city trying to make sense of its landmarks. But Harvey’s visitors are from another planet, exploring a world that’s been devoid of humans for thousands of years. In “The Alien’s Guide to the Ruins of Washington, D.C.”—July 3 through October 6 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art—the British-born Brooklyn artist explores notions of architecture, heritage, and identity by showing how aliens might interpret the neoclassical buildings here and around the world.
Harvey, a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, has long been interested in how art is defined—painting miniature landscapes illegally on buildings in her “New York Beautification Project” and offering people free portraits in return for their evaluation of her work at the 2008 Whitney Biennial. The idea for “The Alien’s Guide” was sparked in part by the Corcoran’s neoclassical building as well as the act of museum-going itself. “Institutions always have this desire to impose meaning on the chaos of reality,” Harvey says. “We look back to the classical architecture of the Greek and Roman eras, and it’s such a foreign society to us—we impose our own ideas upon it. I thought it would be fun to discuss assumptions of hierarchy, power, and democracy by having aliens come to earth and come up with the wrong end of the stick on everything.”
It might not be arm wrestling with Muammar Qaddafi, but the Smithsonian’s upcoming exhibit on the visual history of yoga is still enticing enough to Jack Donaghy’s alter ego that he’s agreed to co-chair the exhibition’s gala. Alec Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria, a yoga instructor, will act as gala chairs for “Yoga: The Art of Transformation,” scheduled to open at the Sackler Gallery on October 19. The actor announced the news yesterday—how else?—via his Twitter account.
The Sackler’s yoga exhibition is the first ever museum exhibition to explore the history of yoga and also the first the Smithsonian has actively crowdfunded, in an effort to raise $125,000 towards its costs. If you can’t wait until October, and you want to see a video of the Baldwins practicing yoga in a studio in Cannes right now, watch here.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture announced today that media mogul, actress, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has pledged to donate $12 million to the museum, in addition to the $1 million donation she made in 2007.
The museum, scheduled to open in 2015, is the 19th Smithsonian institution and the last to open on the Mall. It will pay tribute to the rich and complex history of African American culture in the US. Winfrey is on the museum’s advisory council, along with other luminaries and artists such as Quincy Jones, former First Lady Laura Bush, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The donation is the largest pledge the museum has received from a single person, and will help fund the museum’s theater, which will be named the Oprah Winfrey Theater and will host film screenings, theater works, and other performances.
“I am so proud of African-American history and its contributions to our nation as a whole,” Winfrey said in a statement. “I am deeply appreciative of all who paved the path for me and all who follow in their footsteps. By investing in this museum, I want to help ensure that we both honor and preserve our culture and history, so that the stories of who we are will live on for generations to come.” Winfrey has donated an estimated $400 million to charitable causes during her lifetime.
Winfrey stars in the upcoming Washington-set movie The Butler as the wife of Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who served eight different presidents. It’s her first appearance in a motion picture in 15 years, since her lead role in the film adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Beloved. (See the trailer for The Butler in our earlier post.)
It isn’t April 1, so we’re assuming the press release from the Newseum about a planned “Anchorman” exhibit opening in November is genuine. November 14, the museum joins forces with Paramount Pictures to present “Anchorman: The Exhibit,” which will coincide with the release of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues in December. Among the items on display: Ron Burgundy’s jazz flute, a re-creation of the KVWN-TV anchor desk, and a news set where visitors can pretend to be Brick Tamlin.
Items we hope are included, but unconfirmed for now:
- Sex Panther perfume.
- Many leather-bound books.
- A trident.
- A glass case of emotion (although if you think about it, that’s basically what the Newseum is, only on a much larger scale).
We look forward to updating this when we learn more, but for now, you stay classy, Pennsylvania Avenue.
Yes, we’re spoiled with free museums in Washington, but that doesn’t mean this weekend’s Art Museum Day isn’t worth celebrating. Saturday, May 18, area institutions such as the Phillips Collection, the Corcoran, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Hillwood Estate are opening their doors with special deals on admission. The details:
Baltimore Museum of Art
Admission to the BMA is free, but the museum is offering $10 off individual and family memberships on Art Museum Day, so you can join for $45 instead of the usual $55. New members also receive a $10 voucher to Gertrude’s, the museum’s restaurant.
Corcoran Gallery of Art
The Corcoran is offering free admission all day May 18, as well as every Saturday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Additionally, use the hashtag #ArtMuseumDay to get 15 percent off at the museum shop.
Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens
Visit the Hillwood Museum on May 18 and receive two-for-one admission to the upcoming exhibit “Living Artfully: At Home With Marjorie Merriweather Post,” opening June 8.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
The NMWA will offer free admission all day May 18, from 10 to 5.
The Phillips is offering free admission all day on May 18, from 10 to 5.