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Visitors at the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall - Free art museum in Washington, DC

Museum Exhibits & Experiences to Check Out This Fall in Washington, DC

The District’s museums offer a great lineup of exhibits and cultural experiences throughout the fall.

Arts and culture reign each fall in Washington, DC, as both theaters and museums debut new attractions. Below, we’ve gathered some of the most intriguing exhibits and displays to be found at DC’s museums throughout the season. Don't forget: many of DC's museums can be visited for free.

Jacob Lawrence and the Children of Hiroshima – Through Nov. 27
The Phillips Collection brings together masterful paintings by Jacob Lawrence and heartfelt drawings by the children of Honkowa sent to the children of All Soul’s Church in DC in 1947. Lawrence was inspired by John Hersey’s account of six survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb to create haunting and powerful scenes shaded in pink, yellow, red and blue. The Honkowa children’s vibrantly colored scenes showcase resilience in the tragic aftermath of the bombing of their school, which killed more than 400 students and four teachers. Together, the collections convey a testament against nuclear warfare and illustrate the potential for peace and reconciliation.
Hours & Admission
The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
 

The Peacock Room Comes to America – Opens Sept. 3
Check out one of the crown jewels of DC’s National Museum of Asian Art in renovated form when the Peacock Room reopens. Originally commissioned by shipping magnate Frederick Leyland, James McNeill Whistler’s peacock-inspired “harmony in blue and gold” was eventually purchased by Charles Lang Freer, taken apart and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to Detroit, Michigan. Now, the incredible and historic Peacock Room calls the National Museum of Asian Art home. See the modern marvel for free on the National Mall.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. | Free Admission
National Museum of Asian Art, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

 

National Gallery Nights: Homecoming – Sept. 8
The lively event for art lovers and night owls returns to the National Gallery of Art’s East Building. Discover modern and contemporary art through performances that will highlight The Double: Identity and Difference in Art since 1900 and The Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan and James McNeill Whistler, two of the museum’s newest exhibitions. You can also enjoy beats by DJ Heat and drinks and bites throughout the evening.
6-9 p.m. |  Registration Required
National Gallery of Art, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

 

Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South – Sept. 18 – March 26, 2023
The National Gallery of Art invites visitors to enjoy more than 40 paintings, assemblages, sculptures and drawings from essential Black artists, including Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Mary T. Smith, Purvis Young, James “Son Ford” Thomas and many more. Incredible quilts made from scraps of fabric and old clothing crafted by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama are also on display as part of an in-depth look at the significance of cultural and spiritual traditions on some of the finest contemporary art.
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily |  Free Admission
National Gallery of Art, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

 

Intersections: Jonathan Monaghan – Sept. 22 – Dec. 31
The latest showcase in The Phillips Collection’s ongoing Intersections series highlights the work of Jonathan Monaghan. Move the Way you Want blends aspects of ancient mythology and today’s digital age to reflect the tensions of our commercialized lifestyle. The site-specific installation features imagery, Gothic-like archways and lavish Baroque-like windows to frame a present-day beach scene with abandoned scooters and bikes, Pelotons and hi-tech gadgets. The exhibit also features a video projection and works from the Phillips’ permanent collection.
Hours & Admission
The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

 

One Life: Maya Lin – Sept. 30 – April 16, 2023
Discover the life of Maya Lin in this biographical exhibition of the architect, sculptor and environmentalist. Delve into a range of photographs, sculptures and architectural models from her childhood to today, including an interactive multimedia element. Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, is the first Asian American to be featured in the National Portrait Gallery’s One Life series.
11:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Portrait Gallery, 8th and G Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

 

Sargent and Spain – Oct. 2 – Jan. 2, 2023
Considered to be the finest portrait artist by many critics of his era, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) is among the most influential American painters. The National Gallery of Art collects 120 of the painter’s works, including rarely exhibited watercolors, oils and drawings, that focus on his time in Spain. The artist’s fascination with the country – including the breathtaking island of Majorca – is beautifully communicated through pictures of everyday life, architectural studies, landscapes, marine scenes and much more. Sargent and Spain also features 28 never-before-published photograph, several taken by the artist himself.
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Gallery of Art, 6th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC

 

Vermeer’s Secrets – Oct. 8 – Jan. 8, 2023
In total, only 35 paintings by Johannes Vermeer are known today. The National Gallery of Art owns four of them. For decades, curators, conservators and scientists have researched the quartet of paintings by the 17th-century Dutch artist as well as two other works now considered to be forgeries from the 20th century. The Gallery now offers 50 years of imaging technology and microscopic examination in Vermeer’s Secrets, sharing unique findings about the artist’s dazzling technique and revolutionizing our understanding of him in the process.
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Gallery of Art, 6th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC

 

The National Air and Space Museum in DC reopens – Oct. 14
After an extensive renovation, DC’s National Air and Space Museum reopens on the National Mall. Eight new galleries of the transformed museum will be shared for the first time, including displays such as America by Air, Destination Moon, Early Flight and Nation of Speed. Please note that free timed passes will be required and will be available to reserve beginning Sept. 14. Visit the museum’s website for more information.
National Air and Space Museum, 655 Jefferson Drive SW, Washington, DC 20560

 

Kinship – Oct. 28 – Jan. 7, 2024
The National Portrait Gallery uses more than 40 artworks by eight contemporary artists, including Jessica Todd Harper, Thomas Holton, Njideka Anukyili Crosby and Sedrick Huckaby, to showcase the importance of “kinship” and the relationships that bond us. Through multiple mediums, the pieces explore intergenerational dynamics, gender roles, responses to life and death and so much more.
11:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Portrait Gallery, 8th and G Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

 

John Akomfrah: Purple – Oct. 28 – Summer 2023
London-based artist John Akomfrah brings his largest ever video installation, a totally immersive, six-screen piece, to DC for the very first time thanks to the Hirshhorn Museum. Purple pulls together original film, archival footage and a haunting score to inspire the viewer to contemplate climate change. Akomfrah uses striking images of the built world infringing on the natural, resulting in a powerful visual experience.
10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. |  Free admission
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue & 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20560

 

The Double: Identity and Difference in Art since 1900 – Through Oct. 31
Just 11 days after the National Gallery of Art’s East Building reopens, the museum will debut the first major exhibition to consider both how and why modern artists have used the technique of doubling in their work. Themes ranging from the psychological to the perceptual to self-identity will be at the heart of The Double, which will feature the work of Matisse, Duchamp, Gorky, Rauschenberg, Johns, Warhol and many more.
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Gallery of Art, 6th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC

 

A Window Suddenly Opens: Contemporary Photography in China – Nov. 4 – Jan. 7, 2024
The Hirshhorn’s first survey of photography by leading multigenerational Chinese artists from the 1990s through the 2000s will feature 186 artworks, 141 of which are a landmark promised gift to the museum from Chinese art collector Larry Warsh. The exhibition’s title (drawn from a 1997 publication) celebrates the shift of photography from a realistic art to a conceptual one. Featured artists include Cang Xin, Cao Fei, Chen Shaoxiong, Cui Xiuwen, Gu Dexin, Hai Bo and Hong Hao.
10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. |  Free admission
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue & 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20560

 

The Renaissance in the North: New Prints and Perspectives – Through Nov. 7
The region of northern Europe today known as Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands underwent a massive transformation socially, politically and artistically from the 1450s through the early 1600s. The period now referred to as the Northern Renaissance is the subject of this new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Rare prints by Albrecht Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius and other influential artists are shown next to engravings, etchings and woodcuts by other talented but lesser known artists of the time.
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Gallery of Art, 6th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC

 

Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces – Nov. 10 – Nov. 30, 2023
All the way back to the American Revolution, Native Americans have served in the U.S. armed forces, often in extraordinary numbers. The National Museum of the American explores the phenomenon of the Indigenous commitment to the U.S. military, from being drafted to the pursuit of employment or education to tribal traditions and treaty commitments.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Museum of the American Indian, 4th Street & Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

 

ARTECHOUSE

Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies
ARTECHOUSE’s newest experience allows you to walk alongside African kings and queens as you explore timeless questions of identity, power and belonging. Inspired by aṣẹ, a Yoruba concept that relates to our power to produce change, Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies celebrates the Black experience through the perspectives of artist Vince Fraser and poet Ursula Rucker. Use the "Tickets" link below for a special discount!
Monday – Thursday: 1-9 p.m. | Friday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. |  Tickets
ARTECHOUSE, 1238 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

 

A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur – Nov. 19 – May 14, 2023
Immersive paintings transport you to the Indian court of Udaipur circa 1700 via this stunning exhibit at the National Museum of Asian Art. Paintings on a range of materials – including paper and cloth – bring your imagination to far-off lands to see palaces, lakes and mountains. See how artists of the time period depicted emotions, celebrated the natural world and built communities in the rapidly changing environment of South Asia.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Museum of Asian Art, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

 

Living in Two Times: Photography by Bahman Jalali and Rana Javadi – Through Jan. 8, 2023
Noted for sharp documentary images and photomontage, the husband-and-wife team of Bahman Jalali and Rana Javadi are among the most influential figures in the development of late 20th-century photography in Iran. The duo captured moments of extreme turmoil in their homeland, most notably through the series Days of Blood, Days of Fire, selections of which are featured throughout the exhibit. Visitors can also marvel at the artists’ innovative photomontage work.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Museum of Asian Art, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

 

Feathered Ink – Through Jan. 29, 2023
The National Museum of Asian Art uses three galleries to display how Japanese artists have experimented with different brush techniques across centuries in their dazzling depictions of avian subjects. Drawing from an extensive collection of bird-and-flower paintings, Feathered Ink includes hanging scroll paintings, folding screens, ceramics and printed books.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Museum of Asian Art, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

 

I Dream a World: Selections from Brian Lanker’s Portraits of Remarkable Black Women Through Jan. 29, 2023
Installed in two parts, this new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery will feature likenesses of women who have made an impact through the arts, activism, literature and politics. The masterful work of photographer Brian Lanker showcases figures such as Maya Angelou, Septima Poinsette Clark, Lena Horne, Barbara Jordan, Rosa Parks, Leontyne Price, Wilma Rudolph and Alice Walker. Icons featured in the second phase of installation will include Althea Gibson, Odetta, Cicely Tyson and Oprah Winfrey.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Portrait Gallery, 8th and G Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

 

One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection – Through June 14, 2023
The Hirshhorn has been collecting the prolific work of Yayoi Kusama since 1996. The museum’s 2017 survey of her work traveled to five North American art museums, introducing Kusama’s spellbinding visions to record audiences. Now, the Hirshhorn displays five of Kusama’s works from the museum’s permanent collection, including two of the artist’s transcendent Infinity Mirror Rooms. One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is a tribute to the life and practice of the visionary artist. The popular exhibit has been extended through the spring of 2023 and beginning Nov. 9, next-day online ticket distribution will be available. Visit the Hirshhorn's website for more information.
10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. |  Free admission
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue & 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20560
 

All American: The Power of Sports – Through Jan. 7, 2024
The National Archives' new 3,000-square-foot exhibit showcases more than 75 items including original records, artifacts and photographs that showcase how American sports unite, teach and inspire us. Highlights include original sports equipment and jerseys used by icons, early 20th-century tobacco baseball cards, rare trophies, photos, letters and much more. The exhibit is located in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery and is free to visit.
10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. |  Free Admission
National Archives Museum, 701 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408

 

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