Summers get hot in Washington, so take advantage of the air conditioning and beautiful indoor public spaces and head to one of the nineteen Smithsonian museums and galleries around the city. Here is a roundup of some of the best exhibits currently on offer in the city, and where to find them.
After a two year renovation, the Renwick Gallery is now open. The WONDER exhibit, open until July 16, 2016, features nine paramount American contemporary artists including Jennifer Angus, Chakaia Booker, and Gabriel Dawe. One of the most striking exhibits is Janet Echelman’s colorful net sculpture in the Grand Salon, a place where museum goers are inspired to lay on the floor and gaze upwards toward a sky of color and light. In its first month, the gallery received unexpected attention on Instagram with 100,000 visitors, quickly making it one of the most instagrammed spots in Washington. According to Bell, “digital celebrity was never the goal,” but the space lends itself beautifully to social media.
Renwick Gallery17th and Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Nature’s Best Photography: Windland Smith Rice International Awards Presents: The Best of the Best
Tucked away on the 2nd Floor of the Natural History Museum is one of the best nature photography exhibits on display in the world, open until August 2016. This collection of 100 large scale images brings together dramatic and beautiful landscapes from Antarctica to Argentina, incredible hunting behavior of wildlife (don’t miss the photo of a leopard hunting a crocodile or a marlin spearing a tuna), and stunning glimpses of Earth’s vistas.
Natural History Museum
10th and Constitution Ave., NW
Kevin Spacey as President Francis J. Underwood
Kevin Spacey’s character Frank Underwood from House of Cards has found a home among the most distinguished American presidents-even before he has won his election. A six-by-six foot portrait, painted by British artist Jonathan Yeo, encourages “the deliberate blurring of distinction between reality and artifice” and is intended to make viewers feel uncomfortable.
While visiting, do not miss the American Presidents exhibit and the Mask of Lincoln, the treasures of the Portrait Gallery.
In Celebration of Paul Mellon
Paul Mellon, whose father provided the original funds for the National Gallery of Art, spent his life carrying out the vision for the museum. While paintings and sculptures from the Mellon collection are always on display, this exhibit, open until September 18, celebrates works of art on paper, which, because of their sensitivity to light, are rarely on display. Now, to coincide with the museum’s 75th anniversary, this brings together 80 of the finest pieces given to the museum by Paul Mellon. Look out for works by Degas, Van Gogh, and Picasso.
National Gallery of Art
A New Moon Rises: New Views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera
The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum features the most detailed moon photographs ever taken until December 2016. The photographs, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera launched in 2009, include 61 images of the moon showing its mountains and craters. “A New Moon Rises” has been divided into six themes: Global Views, Exploration Sites, Discoveries, Vistas, Topography and Craters.
Air and Space Museum