On Groundhog Day this year, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, predicting another six weeks of winter. While this may sound bleak, for Washingtonians, Smithsonian Gardens offers some respite. In the covered (and climate controlled!) Kogod Courtyard shared by the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) and the National Portrait Gallery, the exhibit Orchids: Hidden Stories of Groundbreaking Women serves as an oasis in the middle of our chilly city.
Infinite in Their Variety
The Smithsonian orchid exhibit features hundreds of different orchid varieties, but still only a small sliver of the more than 25,000 species that have been identified. Depending on the species, orchid flowers vary in size from 0.1 inch in diameter to up to 15 inches.
Orchids are a many splendored thing. Their reproductive parts frequently mimic the form of insects to attract pollinators. And, orchids are also an extremely old group of flowering plants, with varieties appearing in the Late Cretaceous period and sharing space with T. rex and other dinosaurs.
Orchids and Groundbreaking Women
In addition to sharing a wide variety of different orchid species, the Smithsonian exhibit also tells the story of the women who study them, including botanists, conservationists, and even artists. Scattered throughout the exhibit are profiles of women who conduct research on orchids.
Artists like Georgia O’Keefe are also highlighted.
Find out more about the women highlighted in a virtual exhibit on the Smithsonian Gardens website.
A Place for Quiet Contemplation
The orchid exhibit is a perfect place to get away from the stress we’ve all been carrying since the start of the pandemic.
Bring the Kids
A visit to the Kogod Courtyard is also a great way to get the kids out of the house. Many children are enchanted by the orchids’ bright blooms, while others prefer to play in the watery scrim that runs along one side of the courtyard.
If you go…
…keep in mind that SAAM and the Portrait Gallery are currently running on a modified schedule: 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. And, the D.C. indoor mask mandate remains in effect until March 1st.