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18 museum exhibits in DC to check out this fall

From abstract paintings to modern-day photography, here’s where to get a dose of art in the District as the days cool down in NoVA.

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The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (© kmiragaya / stock.adobe.com)

Whether you’re an aspiring sculptor or simply have an affinity for the arts, here is everything you need to know about 18 new exhibits arriving in Washington, DC from September through November.

National Gallery of Art

In September and October, the National Gallery of Art is debuting four exhibits, ranging in theme from 19th-century photographs to 21st-century pastel painting. The first to open is The Eye of the Sun, serving as an in-depth look at the development of photography opening on Sept. 8, on the 180th anniversary of the medium’s inception in the world. A week later on Sept. 15, the first-ever monographic exhibition in the U.S. of Andrea del Verrochio, teacher of Leonardo da Vinci, will be on display, titled Verrocchio: Sculptor and Painter of Renaissance Florence

At the very end of the month, on Sept. 29, the museum will release The Touch of Color: Pastels at the National Gallery of Art, which explores the various approaches to painting with pastel from the Renaissance period to the 21st century. As the exhibition features many pieces that have never been seen in public before, it will be open until January 2020. The final new exhibit at the site is Alonso Berruguete: First Sculptor of Renaissance Spain, set to open Oct. 13, featuring over 40 works from across the Spanish artist’s career. This exhibition is the first major display of Berruguete’s talent to be held outside Spain. 

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Ground-breaking artist @judy.chicago’s newest body of work “The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction” tackles human mortality and species extinction. Using painted porcelain and glass, as well as large bronze sculptures, Chicago leverages her bold graphic style to address universal concerns in nearly 40 works. . See the entire series on view for the first time in #JudyChicagoDC at #NMWA, opening September 19—or wait until September 21 and see them for FREE as part of #MuseumDay (tickets in bio). . 🖼️: #JudyChicago, “”Stranded,” from “The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction,”” 2016; Courtesy of the artist; @salon94, New York; and @jessicasilvermangallery, San Francisco; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

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National Museum of Women in the Arts

Arriving on Sept. 19, the National Museum of Women in the Arts will release two new exhibitions. The first, Judy Chicago—The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction, will feature a collection of 40 pieces that reflect on the artist’s career of pushing boundaries. The series is separated into three sections, all of which depict Chicago’s personal experience with grief, demise and human interaction through sculpture, painted porcelain and glass. On the same day, the work of 12 modern and contemporary photographers will be displayed in the exhibit, Live Dangerously, which explores the ways female bodies interact with the natural world. Through innovative storytelling, each photo explores a different emotion and scene, ranging from teens rebelling with smoke bombs to a woman being crushed by a wave.

Dive into the history with Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age, on display starting Oct. 11 through January 2020. Featuring successful artists in the Netherlands during the 17th and 18th centuries, this series explores a period of economic growth for that region of the world, as well as for women specifically, through painting.

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Inner courtyard of the Freer | Sackler. (© Melinda Young / Flickr)

Freer | Sackler Museum

Organized by the Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art, the Freer | Sackler, and the National Museum of Korea, Sacred Dedication: A Korean Buddhist Masterpiece will feature a single object for visitors to observe. The wooden sculpture is of Gwanum, the most popular deity in Korean Buddhism that represents compassion, and will be on display as a loan until March 22, 2020. 

On Nov. 23 and Nov. 27, respectively, the museum will unveil two exhibitions—Hokusai: Mad about Painting and Thomas Wimer Dewing: Contemplation and Connection—that will remain on display until the same time next year. The first presents the world’s largest collection of paintings, sketches and drawings by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, which will be a year-long exhibit in honor of the upcoming summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. The ladder features artist Thomas Wilmer Dewing and his series of paintings of solitary female figures and their presence in life.

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The exterior of the Hirshhorn Museum. (© jonbilous / stock.adobe.com)

Hirshhorn Museum

For the first time in Hirshhorn’s history, its entire 4.3-acre outdoor plaza will be devoted to the work of one single artist as a result of a new exhibit, Lee Ufan: Open Dimension, set to open to the public on Sept. 27. The collection of 10 sculptures consists of contrasting materials, such as stainless steel plates and boulders, in order to create a scene of overall acceptance, according to the artist. 

About a month later on Oct. 24, the museum will debut the expansive new work of American abstract painter Pat Steir that she has been working on over the course of the past four decades. Steir’s 28 large-scale paintings will add color to the walls of the second-floor galleries, as all of her work is bright, vibrant and incredibly detailed. 

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Exterior of The Phillips Collection. (© San Fran Ann / Flickr)

The Phillips Collection

America’s first modern art museum will release two new exhibits this October that vary in style and look. The first, Intersections: Los Carpinteros, is set to open on Oct. 10, featuring works of architecture, sculpture, design and drawings by Los Carpinteros, an internationally acclaimed artist collective from Cuba. As the pair of artists, Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodriguez, separated last year, this will be their first museum project together since then. 

Later in the month on Oct. 26, Bonnard to Vuillard: The Intimate Poetry of Everyday Life will open to the public. This series of over 60, rarely seen works in the form of painting, sculpture, lithography, stained glass and more, showcases several post-impressionist artists’ understanding of the fine and decorative arts. 

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Dive in 🏊‍♀️ 🌊 Eva Auld Watson, “Surf,” n.d. #atSAAM

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Smithsonian American Art Museum and The Renwick Gallery

The Smithsonian American Art Museum will feature two new exhibits this autumn, opening in both October and November, and continuing through the spring of 2020. Starting Oct. 11, Picturing the American Buffalo: George Catlin and Modern Native American Artists, will be on display, showcasing the importance of the buffalo in the daily lives of American Indian tribes through nearly 50 paintings by George Catlin, one of the earliest artists of European descent to view the customs of Native Americans, as well as 10 modern and contemporary works, too.  

On Nov. 27, a profound Japanese American artist will showcase his work in the exhibition, Chiura Obata: American Modern. Consisting of more than 150 paintings, featuring landscapes, household scenes and portraits, this exhibit will explore the artist’s seven-decade career that overlapped with crucial periods in American history, including restricted immigration in the 1920s and the incarceration of Japanese Americans in camps in the 1940s. 

National Portrait Gallery

Over the course of the next few months, the National Portrait Gallery will be adding two new exhibits to its vast collection of art and photography. The first exhibit, Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today, is set to debut on Oct. 26, featuring the work of 46 finalists who were selected as part of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Every three years, artists throughout the U.S. are invited to submit one piece that “challenges the definition of portraiture” to a panel of individuals chosen by the museum. This year’s collection, which will be displayed through August 2020, portrays stories of immigration, the LGBTQ community and contemporary America as a whole.

Curated by the Portrait Gallery’s team of historians, Recent Acquisitions is an annual exhibition showcasing 25 new portraits that will be on display starting Nov. 15 through the end of August 2020. Each year, the unique portraits feature individuals who have made an impact in social justice, art, business, fashion, media and other aspects of our society’s culture. This year’s additions include images of actors Morgan Freeman and Audrey Hepburn, composer Philip Glass and journalist Ruben Salazar. 

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