Things to Do

12 Things to Do Around DC That We’re Most Excited About This Fall

Tyler, the Creator will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion on September 21. Photograph by Chad Batka/New York Times/Redux.

August Wilson Festival

Arena Stage, September 13–May 3

Arena will host a season-long festival celebrating Pulitzer-winning playwright August Wilson, putting on two of his classic works, Jitney (September 13 through October 20) and Seven Guitars (April 3 through May 3). Panels will discuss Wilson’s legacy, including set design (September 16), playwriting (September 28), and his female characters (April 25). Jitney, $41 to $95; Seven Guitars, $56 to $95; panels free.

“Verrocchio: Sculptor and Painter of Renaissance Florence”

National Gallery of Art, September 15–January 12

The 15th-century Florentine Renaissance master sculptor and painter Andrea del Verrocchio is getting global star treatment in this exhibit, which makes its sole US stop at the National Gallery. The show marks 500 years since Verrocchio’s student Leonardo da Vinci died, and it includes works on which the master and the pupil collaborated. Free.

Maggie Rogers performs at Coachella 2019. Photograph by Rich Fury/Getty.
Maggie Rogers at Coachella 2019. See the Eastern Shore native perform at the Anthem in October. Photograph by Rich Fury/Getty.

Tyler, the Creator; Jaden Smith; and GoldLink

Merriweather Post Pavilion, September 21

In Igor, the latest album from Tyler, the Creator, we follow the psychedelic-rap-and-harmony-laden arc of an emotional breakup from the frustrating start to a compromising, I-wish-you-the-best end. In this outdoor show, he’ll highlight his new collaboration with Jaden Smith—yes, Will and Jada’s son—and share the stage with local rapper GoldLink. $29.50 to $69.50.

Maggie Rogers

The Anthem, October 7–8

An Eastern Shore native, indie/country crooner Maggie Rogers got famous three years ago when a video of Pharell reacting to one of her songs went viral. Although her 2019 debut album, Heard It in a Past Life, received mixed reviews, she’s a powerhouse performer: passionately compelling, belting ballads with her whole body—sometimes even barefoot. $45 to $75.

Photograph courtesy of Getty for Refinery29’s 29Rooms.
Photograph courtesy of Getty for Refinery29’s 29Rooms.


DC Armory, October 18–27

Started by the team behind Refinery29 in 2015, this made-for-Insta­gram pop-up installation features 29 immersive, interactive rooms designed by national and local artists. Alexandria-raised singer Kali Uchis is collaborating to create a room entirely dedicated to dreams. Other experiences include a magical crystal cave, mini art classes, a dance party, and palm reading. $34 to $49.

“Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age”

National Museum of Women in the Arts, October 11–January 5

Leave Rembrandt and Vermeer in your art-history books and instead learn about those of­-ten overlooked from the Dutch Golden Age: women. Swap the well-known “Girl With a Pearl Earring” for works such as the gorgeously creepy insect paintings of Maria Sibylla Merian, whose illustrated books contributed to research in bot­any and zoology. Each artist was a trailblazer in her own right during the 17th and 18th centuries, whether in still lifes, joyous portraits, or detailed florals. $10.


The Anthem, October 25

The rock band from Washington state, cofounded by Portlandia actor and co­median Carrie Brownstein, is back on tour. The phenomenally eccentric Annie Clark—a.k.a. St. Vincent—produced their latest album, The Center Won’t Hold, but just before its release this summer, drummer Janet Weiss left the group abruptly. While Weiss’s replacement hadn’t been announced by press time, the show is still on—and it will be interesting to see how the group handles losing their longtime member. $37.50 to $62.50.

Sleater-Kinney will perform at the Anthem on October 25. Photograph by Anthony Pidgeon.
Sleater-Kinney will perform at the Anthem on October 25. Photograph by Anthony Pidgeon.

What to Send Up When It Goes Down

Woolly Mammoth Theatre, October 30–November 10

Aleshea Harris will bring her wrenching play/interactive healing ritual about police violence, racism, and anti-blackness to Woolly and other local venues including Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Howard University, and THEARC. “The idea was to hold people accountable, be confrontational, let it be messy, let it be angry,” said Harris earlier this year in an interview with Branden Jacob-Jenkins. In this participatory and provocative work, Harris asks—and answers, in part—how a community can heal. $29.

Opening of the New National Children’s Museum

National Children’s Museum (located in the Ronald Reagan Building), November 1

A 50-foot slide, a slime wheel, and a SpongeBob room make up some of the National Children’s Museum’s new offerings for kids. After a four-year hiatus, the storied museum is reopening in the Ronald Reagan Building as a fun science center, combining the playful (the bubble room that older Washingtonians loved is coming back) and the intellectual (there’s now a Data Science Alley). $10.95.

Marcel Duchamp's“Boîte-en-valise.” Photograph courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum.
Marcel Duchamp’s“Boîte-en-valise.” Photograph courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum.

Death Becomes Us: A True Crime Festival

Lisner Auditorium, November 8–10

True-crime obsessives: Put down your headphones and hear in person from the podcasters of gruesome stories. Now in its second year, this festival will include the people behind The Murder Squad, BuzzFeed Unsolved, and more. Amanda Knox—whom you might remember as the American acquitted of murdering her roommate in Italy—is bringing her podcast, The Truth About True Crime, which explores how sensationalism has affected high-profile cases, such as the Jonestown massacre. Individual event prices start at $25.

“Marcel Duchamp: The Barbara and Aaron Levine Collection”

Hirshhorn Museum, November 9–October 12

Last year, local art enthusiasts Barbara and Aaron Levine decided to donate their significant collection of works by French-born avant-garde conceptual painter and sculptor Marcel Duchamp—which covered many walls in their Kal­o­rama home—to the Hirshhorn. Some 50 pieces will be on display in two exhibitions (the second one opens April 18), including the mustachioed Mona Lisa of “L.H.O.O.Q.” and other “ready-made” sculptures such as “Hat Rack.” Free.

National Symphony Orchestra: Noseda Conducts Tristan and Isolde Act II With Gould and Goerke

Kennedy Center, November 13–15

As head of the NSO, Gianandrea Noseda rarely gets to con­duct operas in DC, despite his internationally renowned talent for the form. See the maestro in his element as he skillfully interprets Richard Wagner’s classic Tristan and Isolde love tragedy, with Stephen Gould and Christine Goerke as the star-crossed pair. $15 to $89.

Gianandrea Noseda will conduct <em>Tristan and Isolde</em> Act II at the Kennedy Center in November. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Gianandrea Noseda will conduct Tristan and Isolde Act II at the Kennedy Center in November. Photograph by Scott Suchman

This article appears in the September 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.