Artistic connoisseurs and cultural enthusiasts from around the globe visit Washington DC for good reason. A walk through the city’s arts and culture scene is a trip around the world and throughout history, offering up the best modern shows and art alongside longtime classics and historic masterpieces. Washington offers such an incredible range of international collections, shows and exhibitions that it may seem overwhelming. To make creating your itinerary and deciding which things to do in DC just a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of four of our favorites for you.
1. Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
Offering breathtaking contemporary architecture accompanied by jaw-dropping art displays, the Hirshhorn is known for showcasing alternative forms and perspectives of contemporary and modern art. The third-floor Lerner Room offers incredible views of the city’s skyline, and the spectacular Sculpture Garden is simply a must-see. From Auguste Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais to David Smith’s Cubi XII and Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree, there are plenty of works to enthrall and stir visitors of all ages. It’s even worth braving the cold to see!
2. National Gallery of Art
Offering two buildings of extensive collections, the National Gallery of Art also features the breathtaking and dynamic light sculpture experience, Multiverse by Leo Villareal. Enjoy it while taking the moving walkway from the East to the West Building. The West Building was created with a rotunda modeled on the ancient Roman Pantheon and offers works displayed by period and nation of origin within galleries decorated to reflect each country and era. The modernist East Building exhibits more contemporary art within a spellbinding setting of spare lines and soaring shapes. And don’t miss the gallery’s impressive outdoor sculpture garden, featuring a fabulous fountain in warm weather that becomes an ice rink during the winter months. It’s a work of art in itself!
3. Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
For those fascinated by Asian art and opulence, these two neighboring museums offer vibrant, colorful collections to meander through, showcasing over 40,000 objects dating from the Neolithic period through modern times – complemented by an impressive selection of American artworks of the aesthetic movement, including the celebrated Peacock Room. From America to Asia, the exquisite artwork, impressive research and dynamic programs at this lesser-known cultural gem offer a world of their own. We can’t get enough of the Chinese jades and ancient bronzes displayed in the Sackler Gallery!
4. The Kennedy Center From concerts and ballets to Broadway shows and musicals, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a spellbinding memorial venue that pays living tribute to JFK’s passion for all things creative. Step inside the Hall of States to be greeted by flags from each of the 50 states. Take a trip to the Terrace Level Theatre Lab to see Shear Madness, a record-breaking comedy whodunit with more than 13,200 performances under its belt. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to get (or afford!) tickets in advance; the Millennium Stage here offers free performances with no ticket required virtually every day. Genres celebrated at the Kennedy Center include chamber and classical music, dance in all its forms, opera, vocal concerts, choirs, orchestras, musicians and more. There’s always something wonderful playing here!
If none of these incredible establishments strikes the right cultural chord for you, we can easily suggest many more unique and wonderful theater venues and museums to enjoy. And don’t forget to check out our own list of local attractions for more information on things to see and do, places to eat and drink, and shopping galore in Washington, DC.