|Amati violin at the Smithsonian|
Thankfully I have friends in the area who were willing to put me up and drive me around which made the trip even feasible. (They also own one of my violins so I was able to at least offer some instrument maintenance in exchange--Although I have to say I found doing bench work at a kitchen table to be surprisingly disorienting when I'm used to being surrounded by all the tools and light I need.)
The pre-convention tour, that was only available to a smaller group than would attend the full convention, included a trip to the Library of Congress in the morning, and the Smithsonian in the afternoon. Both places have an impressive collection of rare instruments, including some of the most famous that Stradivari ever built. I had the opportunity to study and play the collection in the Library of Congress many years ago, but have never seen the ones in the Smithsonian other than in photos.