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3 Things to Know About DC’s Newest Art Museum

The Rubell Museum opens October 29.

Rubell Museum DC façade rendering courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle.

Does DC really need yet another art museum? Of course! The latest entrant in our thriving scene is the Rubell Museum, which opens October 29. Here’s a quick preview.

It’s Located in a Historic Space

The museum will occupy the 1906 building that once housed Randall Junior High School, a prominent African American educational institution in Southwest DC. Fun fact: Marvin Gaye attended Randall in the 1950s.


Don and Mera Rubell. Photograph courtesy Rubell Museum.

It’s Run by a Prominent Couple

Don and Mera Rubell started collecting in 1964, budgeting $25 a week toward purchases. Today the art-loving doctor and teacher own some 7,400 contemporary-art pieces. If that last name sounds familiar, it’s probably because Don’s brother was the late Steve Rubell, who cofounded the famed nightclub Studio 54. The Rubells also own DC’s Capitol Skyline Hotel.


Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Bird On Money” painting from the Rubells’ collection. Photograph courtesy of Rubell Museum.

It Should Be Full of Intriguing Work

The Rubells have another museum in Miami that houses part of their contemporary-art collection, and it’s not yet clear which works will end up in DC. But expect big names like Keith Haring along with rising artists like February James and Hank Willis Thomas.

This article appears in the October 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

Sophia Young
Editorial Fellow