Just in time for the onslaught of Washington’s long, hot summer of discontent, local museums and galleries are readying their (air-conditioned) halls for the barrage of D.C. daytrippers and aesthetic denizens with a farrago of photography, historical and artistic offerings ranging from Frank Lloyd Wright windows to Frederic Remington nocturnes to Andalusian carpets. And with many of them free and extended hours at some venues, capital city museums continue to prove their pre-eminence as the perfect place to while away a lazy afternoon.
On the Mall
After recently concluding a blockbuster Édouard Vuillard retrospective in April, the National Gallery of Art heads into the crucial summer months without a
show of similar scale. That said, the gallery’s late-spring and summer offerings reflect an eclectic mix of smaller exhibits designed to appeal to nearly every inclination.
If bright color and gritty subtexts are your thing, head to “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1880-1938” in the East Building. This daring show of 142 works by the enigmatic German expressionist at his peak opened in March and runs until June.
For a glimpse into the darker side of the mythic American West, check out the nocturnes of “Frederic Remington: The Color of Night,” unveiled last month and closing in mid-July, also in the East Building.
The work of the nimble figures of “Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828): Sculptor of the Enlightenment” will be on display until September in the West Building. This pre-eminent European portrait sculptor dazzles with his depictions of intellectual, military and political personalities of the second half of the 18th century, including Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
From the land of windmills and wooden shoes arrives “Small Wonders: Dutch Still Lifes by Adriaen Coorte,” debuting for the first time in the United States on June 29 in the West Building.
Coorte’s artistic interpretations plumb the beauty of the pedestrian, whether it be a bowl of cherries or a bunch of asparagus. One look is sure to send you scurrying to learn more about this once-forgotten master, who languished in obscurity until the 1950s.
For a taste of art alfresco, stop by the Sculpture Garden adjacent to the National Gallery, which boasts works by Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miró and Sol LeWitt. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, its gates stay open later so you can ponder the perfection of a summer evening with these (literal) giants of art: 10 a.m.-7p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday; and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.
With less than a week before the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden closes a survey of works spanning 40 years by prominent German painter Gerhard Richter, acolytes will have to act fast to catch this standout collection of photo realist and abstract art. Beginning in July, Hirshhorn launches “Gyroscope,” a six-month exhibit during which time its entire complex will consist of works from the permanent collection.
Slain civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. is the subject of the Smithsonian Ripley Center’s “In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” a collection of 100 works by more than a 100 artists — including Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg — which follow King’s trajectory and the social milieu in which he lived, showing May 15-July 27.
At the Arts and Industries Building, amble through “Nature’s Jewels: A Living Exhibit of Orchids and Butterflies” until May 26, while taking in its more than 40 species of winged wonders. Discover the secrets of the political woman in “Changing the Face of Power: Women in the U.S. Senate,” opening May 22. The nearly three-dozen black-and-white photographs by photojournalist Melina Mara underscore the changes the recent influx of women has brought to the august chamber. Finally, don your kilt and bagpipes and join the festivities in “Celebrating Scotland’s Crafts” beginning June 20, just in time for the Smithsonian’s annual Folklife Festival.
Meditate on the artistic outpourings of the Middle Kingdom’s most famous mad monk at the companion exhibits — “In Pursuit of Heavenly Harmony: Paintings and Calligraphy By Bada Shanren (1626-1705) from the Bequest of Wang Fangyu and Sum Wai” showing until October, and “After the Madness: The Secular Life, Art, and Imitation of Bada Shanren” on view through July — respectively at the Freer and Arthur M. Sackler galleries. But don’t overlook the beguiling forms of “Isamu Noguchi and Modern Japanese Ceramics,” at the Sackler through Sept. 7. For a fresh take on the variegated landscape of the Southeast Asian subcontinent as seen through — and against the backdrop of — the Ambassador car, continue on to the Sackler’s “Auto*Focus: Raghubir Singh’s Way into India.”
Finally, stop by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum — now marking a decade of existence — for “Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings,” which examines the effect of the orchestrated elimination of “Un-German” literature during Adolphe Hitler’s reign on the U.S. response to Nazism. For the first time, American museum-goers will also have the chance to view original pages from Anne Frank’s final diary beginning June 12 in “Anne Frank the Writer — an Unfinished Story.”
Just across the street from the White House, the decorative glass windows of architect Frank Lloyd Wright are on display at the Renwick Gallery through July 20. Divided into three parts, “Light Screens: The Leaded Glass of Frank Lloyd Wright” includes 48 of Wright’s so-called “light screens” — as he dubbed his geometric, leaded-glass creations — and focuses on the form, pattern and poetics of the late American master’s designs.
While there may be no flying involved, the carpets are still magical at a pair of exhibits running at The Textile Museum. From southern Spain comes “The Carpets of Andalusia,” — a look at the fusion of Islamic and Western influences in 15th-and 16th-century Iberian carpets on view until Aug. 10. Indulge a taste for red, blue and green daedal configurations at “Mamluk Rugs from Egypt.” These rare, woven treasures — many of which sport date palms and cypress trees — are among some of the oldest intact carpets in the world. The exhibit closes Sept. 7.
With the Phillips Collection’s Goh annex currently undergoing renovations and many of its European masterworks on tour, the main house more than fills the void, launching the first retrospective in two decades of the American modern artist, “Marsden Hartley,” from June 7 to Sept. 7.
A member of photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz’s circle, Hartley is best known for emblematic works such as “Pre-War Pageant,” “Amerika” and a “War Motif” series, which depicts the Iron Cross, German imperial flags and other regimental insignia. Still, “the painter from Maine,” as he was later known, would also bring to life the landscapes of the Pine Tree State and indulge cubist tendencies in his “Dogtown” series.
Washington shutterbugs should feel right at home at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which hosts a panoply of photography exhibits over the spring and summer months.
Already open is “Robert Frank: London/Wales,” the artist’s post-war take on the dichotomy between London bankers and Welsh coal miners, shown in conjunction with “Both Sides of the Street: Celebrating the Corcoran’s Photography Collection,” a selection from the Corcoran’s permanent collection which contextualizes the Frank show.
Debuting at the end of May is the third annual “The Eyes of History 2003: An Exhibition of Award-Winning Photographs by White House Photojournalists.” For a more historical look at Washington’s evolution, don’t miss “Arthur Ellis,” a celebration of the work of the late Washington Post photojournalist on view from July through mid-August.
Also of note is “Portraits of Places: The Prints of Childe Frederick Hassam, an American Impressionist” from June 7 to Aug. 4.
While this smaller upper Northwest gallery is less well known on the Washington museum circuit, the Kreeger Museum’s 180-work permanent collection features an array of gems including works by Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Frank Stella.
Though closed in August, the Kreeger is currently showing “Kendall Buster: Inventory of Imagined Places” through June 21 — a grouping of drawings, models and an architectural installation by the Washington sculptor, whose cell-like and geometric works are bound to take you back to the heady days of high school science class.
Explore the shaman within at Touchstone Gallery’s “Totems by Janet Wheeler” — an array of “ritual objects, untroubled by time,” on view through June 8. Or, let the placid beauty of “Near and Far: Recent Landscape Paintings” by Washington artist Bradley Stevens, from May 16 through June 16 at the Zenith Gallery, captivate your spirit. For an ironic, yet humorous, take on modernity, check out “We Who Laugh Last …” — a collection of Stephen Hansen’s papier mâché sculptures, showing June 19 to July 28.
No doubt much to the delight of the nation’s spooks, the International Spy Museum — one of Washington’s hottest draws since it opened last year — has extended its hours for the peak tourist months. Until Oct. 31, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Around the Hill
On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of her death, travel back into the private world of the virgin queen at “Elizabeth I, Then and Now.” The exhibit — on view until August at The Folger Shakespeare Library — offers the ultimate in artifacts, personal memorabilia and books from the Elizabethan era.
Jurassic junkies old and young will flock to the Capital Children’s Museum this summer for “Dinosaurs” and “Before the Bone Wars: Dinosaurs in the Capital Region,” a duo of hands-on dino-exhibits featuring a life-size dinosaur nest, dino-matching games and casts of dino fossils, which participants can even dig for in a mock excavation. During the months of May and June, the Capital Children’s Museum will also host a variety of exhibit-related activities.
Eastern Market’s Market Five Gallery hosts a mixed-media study in nudes by fine arts photographer Camille Pasley from June 13 through July 20. CravingArtist, a group of community artists, will launch a show featuring mixed-media oils and acrylics on July 25.
The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop’s Capitol Hill Art League recently unveiled “Sense of Place,” a collection of photography, watercolors and drawings by local artists. Beginning in July, the gallery will display the themed work of students from its summer arts camps, which will explore such areas as “Ancient Egypt,” “Oceania” and “Feudal Japan.”
Place and geography is also the theme of Bird in Hand Bookstore and Gallery’s current exhibit, “Maps and Landscapes,” which highlights the lithographs, silk screens and relief prints of Miami-based artist Lise Drost on view until June 28.
Basic information for the museums mentioned follows. Admission is free unless noted.
ON THE MALL
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Independence Avenue and Seventh Street Southwest; open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily, until 8 p.m. Thursday during the summer.
National Gallery of Art
Constitution Avenue and Fourth Street Northwest; open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
Arts and Industries Building
900 Jefferson Dr. SW; open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily.
Freer Gallery of Art/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
12th Street and Independence Avenue Southwest; open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily, until 8 p.m. Thursdays during the summer.
Ripley Center (International Gallery)
1100 Jefferson Drive SW; open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily.
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place SW; open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. through June 12; passes required for some exhibits; call (202) 488-0400.
Corcoran Gallery of Art
500 17th St. NW; open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; closed Tuesdays; Thursday evenings until 9 p.m.; admission is $5 for individuals, $3 for senior citizens and students, $1 for students ages 13-18, and $8 for family groups of one or two parents and children under 18. Members and children under 12 are free. Admission is free on Mondays and on Thursdays after 5 p.m.
2320 S St. NW; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday; admission is free but $5 suggested donation.
1600 21st St. NW; open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sundays during summer, closed Mondays. Admission for the Marsden Hartley exhibit is $8 for adults, $6 for students and individuals 62 and over, and free for members and persons under 18; admission to the permanent collection is free with the exception of weekends beginning June 12.
17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest; open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily.
International Spy Museum
800 F St. NW; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily through Oct. 31; tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for seniors and active duty military/intelligence with I.D., $10 for children 5 to18, and free for children 4 and under. An annual pass is $35.
2401 Foxhall Road NW; open 1-4 p.m. Saturday; tours at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Reservations are required, except Saturdays; call (202) 338-3552. Suggested donation is $8, $5 for seniors and students.
413 Seventh St. NW; open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon-7 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; all items are for sale.
406 Seventh St. NW, second floor; open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; Saturday and Sunday noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
AROUND THE HILL
Capital Children’s Museum
800 Third St. NE; open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $7, $5 for seniors 55 and older, free to children 2 and younger and members. Half-price admission on Sunday before noon with no other discount.
Shakespeare Folger Library
201 East Capitol St.; open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Bird in Hand Bookstore & Gallery
323 Seventh St. SE; open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday and Friday, noon-6 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.
Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
545 Seventh St. SE; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Market Five Gallery
Seventh Street and North Carolina Avenue Southeast; open noon-5p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Saturday; all work is for sale.