National Museum of American History
After an $85-million renovation, the museum reopens November 21, bringing new light—thanks to a five-story atrium—to some of the 3 million objects in its collection. Visitors can see the Star-Spangled Banner displayed in greater glory than ever while learning about the Battle of Baltimore, the capture of Washington, and Francis Scott Key, who wrote the poem that became the national anthem. Also on view is a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address, on loan from the White House until January. Constitution Ave. between 12th and 14th sts., NW; 202-633-1000; americanhistory.si.edu.
National Museum of African Art
In “Desert Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography From the Xavier Guerrand-Hermès Collection,” see how Berber artisans used coral, amber, and silver to make hair ornaments, bracelets, earrings, and fibulae—brooches used to keep clothing fastened. Some of the objects are simple, others quite intricate. 950 Independence Ave., SW; 202-633-4600; africa.si.edu.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
The late Joseph Hirshhorn dreamed of creating an art museum in Canada surrounded by a utopian city. That never happened, but artist Terence Gower, while researching the history of the Hirshhorn Museum, found architect Phillip Johnson’s plans for the city and its museum. Included in “Public Spirit: The Hirshhorn Project,” opening November 5, are photographs of Johnson’s plans, sculptural models, and a video projection that takes viewers on a tour of the proposed town and museum. Independence Ave. and Seventh St., SW; 202-633-1000; hirshhorn.si.edu.
Walters Art Museum
The museum’s collection of jewelry—including a sapphire-and-diamond Tiffany brooch in the shape of an iris that won first prize at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair—is on view in “Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry.” Museum admission is free; the exhibit is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for students. Jewelry Fair 2008 takes place November 20 through 23. Twenty-one contemporary jewelry makers, including Emma Villedrouin of DC and Alchemic Synthesis of Annapolis, will show and sell their work. Admission is $10. 600 N. Charles St., Baltimore; 410-547-9000; thewalters.org.
National Museum of the American Indian
“Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian” opens November 1 here and at New York’s George Gustav Heye Center. Scholder’s earlier works will be on view in DC, his paintings from the ’80s and ’90s in New York. The artist, who died in 2005, made harsh, arresting portraits of Native Americans. Fourth St. and Independence Ave., SW; 202-633-1000; americanindian.si.edu.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
“Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur” is an exhibit of large, detailed, and beautiful works made for royalty in 18th-century India. 1050 Independence Ave., SW; 202-633-1000; www.asia.si.edu.
Corcoran Gallery of Art
“Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power” comprises more than 200 photos of people you’re likely to recognize by sight or by name—from Bob Dylan to Karl Rove—taken by one of the 20th century’s greatest photographers. Tickets ($14 adults, $12 seniors and military, $10 students) may be purchased from corcoran.org or ticketmaster.com. 500 17th St., NW; 202-639-1700.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
“Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities” shows how painter O’Keeffe and photographer Adams—inspired by the colors and contours of the West—often chose the same subjects. Eighth and F sts., NW; 202-633-1000; americanart.si.edu.
National Gallery of Art
“Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture Around the Bay of Naples,” in the East Building, is remarkable. Its frescoes, sculpture, bronzes, jewelry, and even glass older than the first century ad survived an earthquake in 62 ad, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 ad, and crude archaeological digs in the 18th century. Today they’re cherished for their beauty and sophistication. The National Gallery has created an environment that displays this art to its best advantage.
In the West Building, “Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered” concerns the 17th-century painter who was a friend of Rembrandt, and “Oceans, Rivers, and Skies: Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, and Alfred Stieglitz” encompasses 21 black-and-white landscape photographs. West Building, Sixth St. and Constitution Ave., NW; East Building, Fourth St. and Constitution Ave., NW; 202-737-4215; nga.gov.
National Portrait Gallery
“One Life: The Mask of Lincoln” opens November 7. On the eve of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, the Portrait Gallery has gathered more than 30 images of the man, including what’s called the “tousled-hair” portrait, taken in 1857; an 1860 photograph by Mathew Brady; and an engraving of Lincoln reading the Emancipation Proclamation. “Women of Our Time: Twentieth Century Photographs” is made up of portraits by Philippe Halsman, Lisette Model, Irving Penn, Edward Steichen, and others of women who achieved greatness—Helen Keller, Billie Holiday, Gertrude Stein, and more. Eighth and F sts., NW; 202-633-8300; npg.si.edu.