Things to Do

October Art in Washington

Museum exhibits, gallery shows, and more to see this month.

See winning photographs from the Windland Smith Rice International Awards at the Museum of Natural History beginning October 24. Photograph of booted racket-tails by Mark J. Thomas.


“Richard Estes’ Realism” at the American Art Museum comprises nearly 50 pieces by the photorealist painter showcasing his technical skill and the changing face of America in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. October 10 through February 8.

“Unearthing Arabia: The Archaeological Adventures of Wendell Phillips” at the Sackler Gallery collects photographs, video, and found objects that illustrate the experiences of the paleontologist/geologist during his travels in South Arabia (now Yemen) between 1949 and 1951. October 11 through June 7.

Beginning October 12 at the Hirshhorn is “Days of Endless Time,” an exhibit of works by artists who eschew the freneticism of digital life in favor of a serene, timeless vibe. Through April 12. 

The National Geographic Museum presents “Food: Our Global Kitchen,” an interactive look at global agriculture, food production, and cuisines. October 16 hrough February 22. 

Along with its renovated third-floor outer galleries, on October 16 the Hirshhorn debuts “At the Hub of Things,” an ongoing retrospective of works created over the past 75 years, chosen to highlight the museum’s commitment to pushing boundaries. 

In 1887, Charles Lang Freer bought 26 etchings by James McNeill Whistler. Known as the Second Venice Set, they encapsulate the painter’s style and the origins of his mutually beneficial relationship with Freer. See these works in “Fine Impressions: Whistler, Freer, and Venice” at the Freer Gallery beginning October 18. 

The annual Windland Smith Rice International Awards whittle down more than 20,000 images, submitted by amateur and professional nature photographers, to 60 or so of the best, which are on display at the Museum of Natural History October 24 through April 20. 

At the Phillips Collection is “Intersections: Bernardi Roig—No/Escape,” an installation of six works by the Majorcan sculptor—including life-size plaster sculptures molded from humans—that suggest the modern dual-edged sword of overexposure and isolation. October 25 through February 15.

In “The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art” at the American Art Museum, works by a dozen artists explore a range of portrayals of birds and the themes they’re often used to symbolize. October 31 through February 22. 


At Transformer through October 25 is “Tamar Ettun: My Hands Are the Shape of My Height,” a multimedia exhibit by the Israeli artist examining the contrast between sculpture and performance. 

Gallery Underground presents “World Aesthetic,” a showcase of multimedia works inspired by travel, juried by Del Ray artist Alice Kale. Through October 31. 

October 2 through November 1, 1708 Gallery presents “Exquisite Corpse,” an exhibit and silent-auction fundraiser based on a game popular with Surrealists in which artists collectively create a work by contributing a part without seeing what others have done. 

As part of the ongoing celebration of its 60th birthday, Art League offers “Art Now,” a collection of works created in the past year. October 8 through November 3. 

At Neptune Fine Art Gallery October 10 through December 20 is “Out of Bounds,” an exhibit of contemporary abstract paintings by nine American artists. 

CulturalDC presents “Embodying the Ephemeral,” which showcases works by Leslie Berns and Shelley Warren that examine relationships between identity and the environment. October 17 through November 15 at Flashpoint. 


The theme of this month’s Phillips After 5 is What’s the Pointe? Inspired by the museum’s “Neo-Impressionism and the Dream of Realities” exhibit, the event features Washington Ballet dancers, live jazz, and digital art activities.  

The (e)merge Art Fair takes over Capitol Skyline Hotel October 2 through 5 with performances, art shows, and the chance to buy works by up-and-coming artists. 

Art League hosts Art on Tap, an event that pairs seven paintings by Art League instructors with local beers and appetizers created by various Alexandria restaurants. Friday, October 3, 7 to 10:30 PM.

On October 11, Torpedo Factory’s family-friendly Art Safari returns, offering hands-on workshops to teach kids how to make bottlecap necklaces, draw with crayons, and more. 

As part of the 5×5 Project, on October 17, Iranian-born artist Ali Momeni transforms Dupont Circle into a virtual sculpture garden with a “large-scale projection performance.” 7 to 10 PM. 

The Smithsonian Craft2Wear show at the National Building Museum offers clothing, jewelry, and accessories from artists who participated in the Smithsonian Craft Show. October 24 through 26.

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