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Free Things to Do: Events, Festivals & More in Washington, DC

Free Events, Festivals and More in Washington, DC - No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man Exhibit at the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery

Whenever you’re in Washington, DC, you can plan on enjoying plenty of museum exhibits, events and festivals for free, guaranteed.

With access to free museums, the monuments and memorials, the Library of Congress and more, Washington, DC is unrivaled for its many free attractions. But at any given time, you can also take advantage of free one-of-a-kind events, groundbreaking exhibits and unique festivals, making DC the capital of free events.

Check out the list below for some of the latest free happenings creating buzz around the city.

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‘Water, Wind, and Waves: Marine Paintings from the Dutch Golden Age’ - Free art museum exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

‘Water, Wind, and Waves: Marine Paintings from the Dutch Golden Age’ – Through Nov. 25
The Dutch had a close relationship with the water during the Golden Age, using the sea to generate their riches, to travel and, when frozen over or in the summer months, for recreation. Therefore, it’s no surprise that some of the era’s greatest artists focused on water in their work. In this exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, you’ll see nearly 50 paintings, prints, drawings, ship models and books that reflect this fascination with the marine environment from artists such as Jan van Goyen, Hendrick Avercamp and Willem van de Velde the Elder.
Hours
National Gallery of Art, 6th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

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

‘Corot: Women’ – Through Dec. 31
Mostly known for his mastery of landscape painting, which connected French Neoclassicism to the Impressionist movement, Camille Corot also crafted figure paintings that influenced modernists such as Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso. In this new exhibit, you’ll be able to see 44 of the 19th-century artist’s paintings of women, including Woman with a Pearl, Corot's riff on the Mona Lisa, as well as The Repose, a controversial portrait that was one of the few figure paintings displayed during Corot's lifetime. Throughout, Corot gives his subjects life through sophisticated colors and a delicate touch.
Hours
National Gallery of Art, 4th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

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Smithsonian American Art Museum - Washington, DC

‘Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen’ – Through Jan. 6, 2019
Trevor Paglen captures landscapes unlike any other artist would, incorporating the infrastructure of surveillance into his ground-breaking and sometimes unsettling photographs. This new exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum serves as a mid-career retrospective on Paglen in which his early photographs, recent sculptures and work with artificial intelligence will be featured. Contemplating Paglen’s visuals will also have you contemplating the role of privacy in our society, an important, of-the-moment topic.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20004

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‘Let’s Get It Right: Work Incentive Posters of the 1920s’ exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History - Free museum exhibit on the National Mall in Washington, DC

‘Let’s Get It Right: Work Incentive Posters of the 1920s’ – Through Jan. 6, 2019
The tyranny of overbearing employers of the early 20th century will be on full display in this new exhibit at the National Museum of American History. Let’s Get It Right will feature 16 posters, including creations from Mather and Co. and the Parker-Holladay Co. and a World War I notice, that use images and sayings to “inspire” employees, but instead clearly attempt to lessen disagreement, influence attitudes and force workers into longer hours for lower wages.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
National Museum of American History, 1300 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560

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‘Sense of Humor’ exhibit at the National Gallery of Art - Free museum in Washington, DC

‘Sense of Humor’ – Through Jan. 6, 2019
The National Gallery of Art’s Sense of Humor exhibit pulls from the gallery’s collection to showcase how works of art can make us laugh. Renaissance caricatures, English satires and 20th century comics will all be on view, indicating how print became the primary vehicle for humor in art. You’ll see works from Alexander Calder, Jacques Callot, the Guerilla Girls and many more.
Hours
National Gallery of Art, 6th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

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'UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar'  - Free Museum Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC

‘UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar’ – Through Jan. 6, 2019
Two contemporary artists highlight misrepresentations of minorities in American portraiture in this new National Portrait Gallery exhibit. Ken Gonzales-Day uses photography of sculptures, busts and ethnographic casts to create installations that show how the notion of “Otherness” has become intertwined with race, while Titus Kaphar defaces his paintings to reveal how portraits of American icons have coded racial differences and left out African Americans from their representations.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

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'Churchill's Shakespeare' exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library - Fall museum exhibits in Washington, DC

‘Churchill’s Shakespeare’ – Through Jan. 6, 2019
Previously unrevealed connections between Winston Churchill and William Shakespeare will be at the center of this fascinating historical exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Churchill’s Shakespeare will feature Churchill’s famous hat, bow tie and walking stick, in addition to his own personal copies of Shakespeare’s plays. A thorough portrait of Churchill’s life will be on display, including speeches and video clips, with the influence of Shakespeare and his work present throughout.
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday, 12 – 5 p.m. on Sunday
Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC 20003

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Rachel Whiteread exhibit at the National Gallery of Art's East Building - Free art museum in Washington, DC

Rachel Whiteread – Through Jan. 13, 2019
British sculptor Rachel Whiteread receives the first comprehensive survey of her work with this exhibition in the National Gallery of Art’s East Building. Roughly 100 objects from the artist’s 30-year career will be on display, including sculptures, drawings, photographs, documentary materials and even several new pieces shown for the first time. You’ll see the wide range of Whitread’s work, which has many variations in scale, material and subject.
Hours
National Gallery of Art, 4th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

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@ellekaysee - Couple at National Gallery of Art on the National Mall - Date idea in Washington, DC

The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy – Through Jan. 20, 2019
A form of printing in the 16th century, chiaroscuro woodcuts were made using a technique that involved the successive printing of multiple wood blocks. Designs by leading artists such as Raphael and Titian were interpreted and distributed. However, a shroud of mystery still surrounds the process, from the creation of the pieces to their sequencing to their necessity. This exhibit, which will feature new research and interpretations, attempts to erase the mystery surrounding this historical phenomenon in printmaking.
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m on Sunday
National Gallery of Art, 4th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

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@manishmoghe - Visitors at No Spectators Burning Man exhibit at the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery - Cutting-edge art exhibit in Washington, DC

‘No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man’ – Through Jan. 21, 2019
The Renwick Gallery hosts the first major national exhibition to focus on the large-scale participatory work from the annual gathering of bohemians who construct a city of 70,000 in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for one week every year. No Spectators will take over the entire building, even extending outdoors, with sculptures positioned throughout the surrounding neighborhood in parks and on streets in a collaboration between the museum and the Golden Triangle BID. Overall, this extensive exhibit will showcase room-sized installations, costumes, jewelry and more.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Renwick Gallery, Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20006

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‘Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs’ - Exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC

‘Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs’ – Through Jan. 21, 2019
Diane Arbus was a major figure in the acceptance of photography as a legitimate art form. The portfolio that is the subject of this exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, A box of ten photographs, was a catalyst for photography’s evolution. The exhibition will detail the history of the project, its innovation and how Arbus came to be such a vital artist, even posthumously.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20004

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Japan Modern Photography Exhibit at the Freer | Sackler Gallery on the National Mall - Free art museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC

‘Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection’ – Through Jan. 21, 2019
A recent acquisition of major Japanese photography by the Freer|Sackler led to this exciting new exhibition that will highlight influential photographers of the 20th century in all their glory. Expect to see jaw-dropping landscapes and hard-hitting portraits of postwar Japan. The photographs are both rural and urban, serving as social commentary in some cases and deeply personal meditations in others. Photobooks and films will also be included.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Freer|Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

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'Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography' at the Freer | Sackler Gallery on the National Mall - Free art museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC

‘Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography’ – Through Jan. 21, 2019
Traditional woodblock printmaking was the norm in Japan until the mid-19th century, when photography became prominent. Printmakers were forced to innovate in order to stay relevant. Additionally, a new government, a powerful earthquake and a world war also contributed to the major upheaval that these artists faced. This exhibit will highlight how printmakers dealt with such radical change, and in turn, elevated and evolved an art form to reflect the times.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Freer|Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

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'Charline Von Heyl: Snake Eyes' exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum on the National Mall - Free fall museum exhibit in Washington, DC

‘Charline Von Heyl: Snake Eyes’ – Through Jan. 27, 2019
Charline Von Heyl, one of the most revered contemporary painters, receives her largest U.S. museum survey yet. Snake Eyes will feature more than 30 large-scale paintings by Von Heyl, showing her incredible influence on the modern art landscape. Her inventive style incorporates a range of influences, from literature to pop culture to metaphysics. Prepare to see truly unique works from one of the most visionary artists of our time.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, 7th Street & Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

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'Sean Scully: Landline' exhibit at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum - Free modern art museum in Washington, DC

‘Sean Scully: Landline’ – Through Feb. 3, 2019
Sean Scully’s famous Landline series will make its U.S. debut at the Hirshhorn. Landline includes watercolors, oil paintings and sculptures, all demonstrating Scully’s expressive style that brings the beauty and glory of the natural world to mind. Using vertical and horizontal lines, Scully’s work combines the land, sea and sky to create a rush of energy and vibrant colors.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, 7th Street & Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

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'Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950' - Free art exhibit at the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall in Washington, DC

‘Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950’ – Through Feb. 18, 2019
One of America’s most important photographers is showcased in this exhibit that will cover an entire decade of his work. Gordon Parks went from documenting everyday life in Saint Paul and Chicago to becoming a true visionary featured in leading publications such as Vogue, Life and Ebony. This exhibition will feature 150 objects, including some of Parks’ most striking photographs as well as books, magazines, letters and family pictures. You will be granted an intimate look at a revolutionary artist.
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m on Sunday
National Gallery of Art, 4th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

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@preparingforpeanut - Child in Smithsonian National Postal Museum - Museum off the Mall in Washington, DC

‘Alexander Hamilton: Soldier, Secretary, Icon’ – Through March 3, 2019
View original mail sent and signed by Alexander Hamilton when he served as the first Secretary of the Treasury in this enthralling exhibit from the National Postal Museum. You’ll also be able to see portraits of Hamilton and his contemporaries on stamps, in addition to enjoying interactive elements and educational programming.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002

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‘Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now’ - Free exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC

‘Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now’ – Through March 10, 2019
Sharpen your understanding of an understudied art form, from its historical significance to its modern-day application, at this new exhibit from the National Portrait Gallery. Cut paper profiles, known as silhouettes, rose to prominence as a form of portraiture in the 19th century. The exhibition will focus on fascinating pieces from that era, as well as contemporary interpretations of the form from Kara Walker, Kristi Malakoff and Kumi Yamashita, among others.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

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

‘Dawoud Bey: The Birmingham Project’ – Through March 17, 2019
Photographer Dawoud Bey has been capturing marginalized communities with a distinct style for more than 40 years. This fall, the National Gallery of Art will display four large-scale photographs and a video from Bey’s most essential series, “The Birmingham Project”. The collection is a monument to the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Al. on Sept. 15, 1963. The exhibit will coincide with the 55th anniversary of the tragedy.
Hours
National Gallery of Art, 4th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

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Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor - Fall art exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC

‘Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor’ – Through March 17, 2019
The Smithsonian American Art Museum will present the first major retrospective on an artist born into slavery with this fascinating look into the work of Bill Traylor. Born in Alabama in 1853, Traylor lived through enslavement, the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws and the Great Migration. He painted and drew striking pieces that covered a gamut of subjects, from the political to the racial to the powerful, delivering a stunning interpretation of African American life. You’ll be able to view 155 of Traylor’s most important paintings and drawings in this exhibit.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th & F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

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Anderson House Headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati - Dupont Circle - Washington, DC

‘A Revolution in Arms’ – Through March 24, 2019
Anderson House will dive into an essential element in America’s fight for its independence during the Revolutionary War in this new exhibit. When the war began in 1775, there were not many shops or factories producing weapons in America. In order to battle the well-armed British, the Continental Army had to resort to numerous resources in order to procure firearms and swords. A Revolution in Arms will showcase muskets, pistols, swords and other weapons used by American troops during the effort.
Hours
Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

 

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'Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse' exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum on the National Mall - Free fall museum exhibit in Washington, DC

‘Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse’ – Through April 28, 2019
Innovative Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer will bring the largest interactive technology exhibition to the Hirshhorn in the museum’s history. Pulse will take up the entire Second Level, with three major installations using heart-rate sensors to create audiovisual experiences from visitors’ biometric data. Together, the biometric signatures will create spellbinding sequences of soundscapes, lights and animations.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, 7th Street & Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

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@nittanypanda - Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery in Downtown - Free museum in Washington, DC

‘Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018’ – Through May 5, 2019
The Renwick honors innovation in craft with this in-depth look at the work of four contemporary artists: Tanya Aguiñiga, Sharif Bey, Dustin Farnsworth and Stephanie Syjuco. All four use their work to convey emotion, activism and inclusiveness, using an array of forms in the process, including wood, fibers and ceramics. Expect to see work that upholds social justice and challenges cultural norms.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006

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One Year: 1968, An American Odyssey - Free museum exhibit at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC

‘One Year: 1968, An American Odyssey’ – Through May 19, 2019
In the same year that the National Portrait Gallery opened its doors, America was in the midst of one of its most memorable – and turbulent – years as a country. The Gallery will feature this one-room exhibition as part of its golden anniversary, as well as to highlight the incredible and world-changing events of 1968. A collection of 30 portraits will tell the stories from the year, including the first manned orbit of the moon, the Civil Rights Act being signed into law, the turning point of the Vietnam War and the tragic deaths of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

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@abroadwife - Family at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum - Free museum in Washington, DC

‘Postmen of the Skies: Celebrating 100 Years of Airmail Service’ – Through May 27, 2019
America’s fascination with airmail service in the early 20th century will be the focus of this new exhibit at the National Postal Museum. Trace the beginnings of the service, which initially only covered DC, Philadelphia and New York City, to its eventual privatization in 1927, when businesses began building their infrastructure through airmail, which led to the country’s commercial aviation industry boom.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002

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@jessipatel - Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Washington Monument - Free Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC

‘Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture’ – Through June 2019
One of the leading figures in modern media, Oprah Winfrey, serves as the subject of this exciting new exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Watching Oprah will explore the entertainer’s early life, her wildly successful daytime talk show and her powerful influence on popular culture. You’ll be able to view artifacts from Harpo Studios in Chicago, as well as video clips, photographs and interactive elements.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. |  Timed passes
National Museum of African American History and Culture, 1400 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560

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‘Daguerreotypes: Five Decades of Collecting’  - Free museum exhibit at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC

‘Daguerreotypes: Five Decades of Collecting’ – Through June 2, 2019
The National Portrait Gallery celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with this exhibit that will showcase the museum’s extensive collection of daguerreotypes. These types of photographs were the first made available to the public, employing a process that involved a plate and mercury vapor. In this exhibit, you’ll be able to see portraits of icons such as P.T. Barnum, activist Dorothea Dix, artist Alfred Waud and many more.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

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Smithsonian National Museum of American History

‘The American Revolution: A World War’ – Through July 9, 2019
The National Museum of American History examines the true scope of the American Revolution in this year-long exhibit set to debut in late June. The revolutionary victory at Yorktown and the Franco-American friendship that made it happen will be the focus. The exhibit will include two famous paintings by Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe, The Siege of Yorktown and The Surrender of Yorktown paintings and a famous portrait of George Washington from the early 1780s. The latter three will be displayed together for the first time since the late 1700s.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
National Museum of American History, 1300 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560

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'A Glimpse of Ancient Yemen' at the Freer | Sackler Gallery on the National Mall - Free art museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC

‘A Glimpse of Ancient Yemen’ – Through Aug. 18, 2019
Located in the Sackler Gallery, this exhibit highlights south Arabia (now known as Yemen) and its prosperous trading during ancient times. Aromatics such as frankincense and myrrh came from the region to Greece, Rome and Persia, which in turn spread artistic and cultural traditions in Arabia. The exhibit features objects that were retrieved from the region in the early 1950s, painting a detailed picture of an ancient metropolis.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Freer|Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

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Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today - Fall art and museum exhibits in Washington, DC

‘Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today’ – Through Aug. 18, 2019
The self-portrait has taken on entirely new life in recent years, with the rise of “selfies” and the constantly evolving notion of identity. The National Portrait Gallery will draw mostly from its large collection to showcase how artists have portrayed themselves since the beginning of the 20th century, showing the importance of self-portraiture in American history and culture. More than 75 works will be displayed, including portraits by Diego Rivera, Edward Hopper, Elaine de Kooning, Josef Albers and many more.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
National Portrait Gallery, 8th & F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

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Shaping Clay in Ancient Iran at the Freer | Sackler Gallery on the National Mall - Free art museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC

‘Shaping Clay in Ancient Iran’ – Through Sept. 2019
Pottery was an art form in ancient Iran, where waterfowl and rams with curled horns roamed. Ceramics of the time showcase potters using distinct shapes and decorations in their experiments with clay, indicating that even utilitarian pieces could be turned into works of art. The exhibit will feature jars, bowls and other ceramics that dare as far back as 5,200 BCE.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Freer|Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

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United States Department of the Interior Building in Washington, DC

‘People, Land & Water’ – Ongoing
The vitality of the Department of Interior is relayed through this state-of-the-art exhibition at the Interior Museum. People, Land & Water features more than 75 artifacts, a 14-minute film, a multimedia presentation that details the Department’s relevance and history and a timeline that showcases the interplay between the Department’s nine bureaus and their missions.
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Monday-Friday)
Interior Museum, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240

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@dartavv - Atrium in the National Gallery of Art's East Building - Free modern art museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC

‘Spaces: Works from the Collection, 1966-1976’ – Ongoing
Five essential minimal and post-minimal sculptures will each be given their own individual gallery in this new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. The East Building and its fascinating architecture will be showcased in this arrangement, as the pieces and their appearance will also be shaped by the space around them. Works by Fred Sandback, Robert Morris and Barry Le Va will be featured, among others.
Hours
National Gallery of Art, 6th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

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@washingtondcua - Tour guide with group in Smithsonian National Museum of American History - Free museum in Washington, DC

America’s Listening – Ongoing
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History features a new wing dedicated to American culture. The experience begins in the gateway with America’s Listening, an in-depth look at the history of recorded sound that showcases five major innovations that still impact how we experience movies and music today. Among the artifacts on display are Thomas Edison’s phonograph, Emile Berliner’s gramophone, Ray Dolby’s noise reduction system and Alexander Graham Bell’s graphophone.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. |  Free admission
National Museum of American History, 1300 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560

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Dorothy's ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz - On display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC

Ruby Slippers and American Culture Displays – Ongoing
One of the National Museum of American History’s most famous artifacts returns. Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz will be on display in the new wing focused on American culture, in addition to the Scarecrow’s hat from the same film. Other notable objects on display: a Yankee Stadium ticket booth, a video game wall, jazz instruments and a famous stained-glass window from the Victory Company’s headquarters in New Jersey.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. |  Free admission
National Museum of American History, 1300 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560

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Smithsonian National Museum of African Art on the National Mall - Free Museum in Washington, DC

‘Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women’ – Ongoing
The National Museum of African Art recently received a significant influx of gold jewelry into its collection, leading to this new exhibit that examines the cultural significance of gold in the West African nation of Senegal. The Wolof concept of sañse (which roughly translates to “looking and feeling good”) is at the center of stylish Senegalese women often wearing gold, a notion that will be covered in detail, along with the production, display and circulation of gold in the country.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
National Museum of African Art, 950 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560

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@abroadwife - Holiday displays at the United States Botanic Garden's Seasons Greenings - Winter holiday events in Washington, DC

Season’s Greenings – Nov. 22 – Jan. 1, 2018
The U.S. Botanic Garden gets decked out for the holidays thanks to this annual exhibit featuring a model train exhibit running through classic train stations like New York City's Grand Central Terminal, St. Louis' Union Station and many more. Inside the Conservatory you'll also find the garden's collection of DC's iconic landmarks, including a model of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and a showcase of poinsettias. On select Tuesday and Thursday evenings, the Conservatory will stay open until 8 p.m. for live performances of seasonal music.
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
United States Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

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Nighttime Shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market - Christmas and Holiday Market in Washington, DC

Downtown Holiday Market – Nov. 23 – Dec. 23
This free-to-frequent downtown bazaar is centrally located at 8th and F Streets NW, in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Scope out eclectic wares from dozens of pop-up tents with seasonally flavored music performed live in the background. Locally roasted coffee and crafted-before-your-eyes mini-doughnuts inspire a cold-weather appetite, creating a holiday atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else in DC.
12-8 p.m.
Centered at 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001

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@fiz1point5 - ZooLights winter holiday celebration at Smithsonian National Zoo - Free family friendly things to do in Washington, DC

ZooLights – Nov. 23 – Jan. 1, 2018
Head to ZooLights at the National Zoo for a wildly vibrant display of LED Christmas lights (a half-million of them!), along with activities like Snow-less Tubing. The kids will love the National Zoo Choo-Choo (a train ride through the Great Cats exhibit), while the big kids enjoy spiked hot chocolate and live music. ZooLights is closed on Dec. 24-25 and 31.
5-9 p.m.
National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

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@wwwchris - Visitors at the National Christmas Tree on the National Mall - Free winter things to do in Washington, DC

National Christmas Tree Lighting – Nov. 28
The National Christmas Tree is DC’s claim to fame during the holidays, and for good reason. The gorgeous conifer lives in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, where it's surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories and is accompanied by nightly musical performances throughout the holiday season, beginning with the official lighting ceremony on Nov. 28. The display is free to visit and open from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. while the National Christmas Tree is lit each day from 4:30-10 p.m.
White House Ellipse, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500

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The Best Events and Festivals Happening in Washington, DC

No city provides as many world-class activities for free as Washington, DC. Discover 100+ free things to do in the ‘Capital of Free!’