Art, Mansions, and Forests

We just returned home to Ann Arbor  from a trip to North Carolina and Tennessee.  Our first stop, Charlotte, NC, has some really special museums.  The Mint Museum has a wonderful collection of contemporary art, fine crafts, and special exhibitions.  Charlotte will soon be hosting the Democratic Convention, so the Mint Museum is exhibiting  "Read my Pins", Secretary of State Madeline Albright's pin collection.   Besides her outstanding diplomatic career, she is famous for sporting outstanding brooches. This exhibition highlighted the symbolic meaning of each pin and gives you some background on why Secretary Albright wore it during certain negotiations.  I have great admiration for this woman who is a tremendously strong, brilliant, and caring person.  She is a great role model.   Here is a link to an article about the same exhibit, when it appeared in Denver. 

The Biltmore
After spending time in Charlotte we visited the Biltmore, George Washington  Vanderbilt's extraordinary home designed by renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt. It is on a 125,000 acre estate with forests, gardens and a winery (that was added by his descendants). The mansion is the largest home in America. Vanderbilt was highly educated, well read, and fluent in many languages. The Biltmore reflected his taste and wealth.  The science of forestry was developed on this property in the late 1800s by Fredrick Law Olmsted (landscape designer of Central Park). It is a fascinating place to visit.  I also enjoyed my first official wine tasting experience. 

Smoky Mountain National Park
Our next stop was Smoky Mountain National Park which is definitely not suffering from a drought this summer. We enjoyed several good soakings and the spectacular scenery. The natural beauty of the Smoky's is breathtaking and has healing properties. I wouldn't mind returning someday.

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