Washington Post, 27. April 2001

An Exhibit Fit for a King

Michael O'Sullivan

When I was a kid, I had an elaborately detailed tabletop plastic castle with turrets, a moat and a working drawbridge. It also came with a few horses in battle skirts and metal headgear and some guys carrying lances, which I broke, like, the day I got them.


Pretty cool, I thought at the time. Apparently, some grown-ups still do. The Aachen, Germany-based Society for Medieval Castle Science (a k a Gesellschaft für Internationale Burgenkunde) has set up a massive scale model of a medieval donjon, or castle stronghold, in the lobby of the National Geographic Society’s headquarters building.

The travelling exhibition “French Donjon: Castle of Coucy, Medieval Life in Miniature” also comes with 52 fine-print text panels in four different languages, but ignore them. The real attraction is the thing itself, which depicts everyday life in the castle of Coucy in northern France, as well as an ongoing siege that took place in 1339 (a couple thousand tiny hand painted human figurines populate the scene).

"Coucy is on view through May 28 at 1600 M St. NW (Metro: Farragut North). Open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 to 5, Sundays from 10 to 5. Call 202/857-7588.