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On the Obamawagon: Displays of Inaugural Affection

Everyone's jumping on the Obama inaugural bandwagon. And why not? The eyes of the nation--nay, the world--are focused on Washington right now. Why not grab some of the action?

If you ride Metro you may have seen the ads for Ikea's "Embrace Change" campaign. The Swedish assemble-it-yourself furniture giant has decided that the election of the nation's first black president is the perfect time for Americans to purchase couches and bookcases that have names like Ektorp and Laxvik. Ikea has assembled a mock Oval Office at Union Station and stocked it with its trademark furnishings:


Hmmm. Looks a little too comfortable and socialist. The display is up until tomorrow. Stop by and register to win a $1,500 gift card!

Meanwhile, the folks over at the National Arboretum want to remind us that presidential inaugurations used to take place in front of the sandstone columns that now dramatically grace a low hill there. According to a press release:

The columns were the backdrop for two dozen presidential inaugurations from Andrew Jackson to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Abraham Lincoln, for instance, gave his famous second inaugural address in front of the columns.

“Anyone who has visited the U.S. National Arboretum, either during the day or when the Capitol Columns are dramatically illuminated from below at night, understands the power and grace of these historic pillars,” said Dr. Thomas S. Elias, director of the U.S. National Arboretum. “In this inaugural season, it is compelling to imagine the sights and sounds of past inaugurations while standing among the Arboretum’s columns.”

That's a bit of a stretch: Come see the columns that used to be at the Capitol when the inauguration used to be on the other side of the building from where it is now. But I don't begrudge them their ploy. The columns do look pretty cool. Planted where they are they resemble some ancient ruin from a long-dead civilization:

capcols.jpgU.S. National Arboretum

Finally, the lobby of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in the District has a curious display: a big plywood pup tent:

libbldng.jpg Photo copyright Jerry McCoy

The installation is the work of British artist Matthew Thompson, who recreated a structure from Resurrection City, a temporary encampment on the Mall between May and June 1968. The camp was the home for nearly 3,000 demonstrators who came to Washington as part of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign. Architects were asked to design something cheap, easy and quick as lodging. According to a press release, Thompson's work, entitled "Hier ist die Future," employs

a playful ambiguity through an intertwining of languages, and is intended to raise questions about our own perceptions of cultural identity whilst addressing our understanding of the past in relation to the present. Specifically the hazards we face interpreting and making sense of history; the way it is documented, archived, accessed and fictionalized.

Okay. There is a clever nod to the architect who designed the library: Mies van der Rohe. Inside the unassuming plywood A-frame is one of van der Rohe's famous Barcelona chairs. The work will be up until Feb. 28. You can see more photos here.

By John Kelly  |  January 13, 2009; 11:18 AM ET
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Next: Where Were You in '85? Or 2005? Inaugural Memories


What one item can we associate with the Bush legacy? Perhaps a toilet? Or a one-page popup book that lists his positive accomplishments?

Posted by: justhere | January 13, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

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