Things to Do

July Art Exhibits, Gallery Shows, and Events in Washington

The BIG Maze at the Building Museum, Artscape Baltimore, and more this month.

See works by Italian-American artist Salvatore Scarpitta at the Hirshhorn this month. “Trevis Race Car (Sal Gambler Special),” 1985. Photograph by Lee Stalsworth.


“Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America” examines extinct species of birds that were once rampant in North America, as well as the fragile relationship between living creatures and their environments. At the Natural History Museum through October 2015. 

The National Portrait Gallery explores the private lives of, and rivalries between, Civil War generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee through photographs, documents, paintings, and more. “One Life: Grant and Lee: ‘It Is Well That War Is So Terrible . . .’” is at the museum July 4 through May 31. 

At the Corcoran July 19 through September 28 is “Mark Tribe: Plein Air,” which explores aerial photography through the artist’s use of computer-generated landscapes.

The BIG Maze—named both for its size (61 by 61 feet, 18 feet high) and for the Bjarke Ingels Group, the architecture firm that created it—opens July 4 at the National Building Museum and serves as a preview of the “amBIGuity” exhibit, opening next year. Through September 1. 

The Hirshhorn presents “Salvatore Scarpitta: Traveler,” one of the only shows in a major US museum dedicated to the works of the Italian-American artist. Among the pieces on display are the full-scale sprint-racing cars he built later in his career and the last work he created before his death in 2007. July 17 through January 11. 

“Behind the Badge” at the Postal Museum is an interactive exhibit centered on the United States Postal Inspection Service, one of the oldest law-enforcement agencies in the country. On display are an anthrax-laced letter sent to Senator Tom Daschle, handcuffs used during the arrest of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, and more. Ongoing. 

The Corcoran College of Art and Design presents “The Gray Area: Living in Transition,” a multimedia exhibit that examines the boundaries between military and civilian life and the way those boundaries can blur. July 2 through 20. 

Coming to the Air and Space Museum July 25 is “Hawaii by Air,” looking at how the journey to one of the most remote states has changed since the early days of flight. 


At the Hillyer Art Space July 5 through 26 is “Flesh & Bone,” an exhibition of 33 works by local and regional artists focused on contemporary figurative art. 

Washington Project for the Arts presents “Harder, Glorious,” the latest in its Hothouse Video series. The group of video works by artists from the United States and abroad attempt to capture the beauty and futility of life. In the lobby of the Capitol Skyline Hotel July 10 through September 14. 

“Frozen Music” at the Torpedo Factory is a showcase of new works by DC photographer Alan Sislen that examine the relationship between music and architecture. Through August 3. 

VisArts presents “The Candy Store,” in which artist Jackie Hoysted uses encaustic painting—a technique that involves adding pigment to heated beeswax—to create a series of scented paintings that play off the idea of art as eye candy. July 11 through August 17.

Also at VisArts, American University alum Ruth Lozner presents “Fiction Non Fiction,” an exhibit of her surrealist art inspired by her family’s collection of thrift-store finds and memorabilia. July 18 through August 17.

“Glass Unpolished: Explorations of Time, Nature, and Technology” at Workhouse Arts Center exhibits pieces by Maryland and Virginia artists working with glass as a medium. July 12 through September 7. 

Stephen Walls’s “Transient States,” at the Torpedo Factory July 19 through August 31, examines the collective unconscious through the North Carolina artist’s large-scale paintings. 


The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is back on the Mall July 2 through 6, exploring Chinese culture through food, dance, music, and more. 

This month’s Phillips After 5, on July 3, fittingly has an Independence Day theme.

Artscape Baltimore, billed as “America’s largest free arts festival,” offers visitors the chance to peruse works from more than 150 artists, designers, craftspeople, and more. July 18 through 20. 

Beginning July 7, “Design@: Sister Cities Exhibit and Festival” presents a show and a series of public programs that explore the culture and development of DC and Beijing. Through July 11 at Powerhouse

On July 18, DC Arts Center celebrates its 25th anniversary with an “uncurated art happening,” offering 25 hours of continuous performances and opportunities to peruse and buy art, culminating in a party with deejays and drinks.