Posted August 1, 2020

Summer Exhibits and Experiences in Washington DC


Summer is a great time to visit Washington DC, and the nation’s capital offers a plethora of cultural exhibits and experiences around town. We’re particularly excited about the National Geographic Museum that spotlights a new exhibit about the time when women ruled Egypt. But that’s just the tip of pyramid. (See what we did there?)

Here, we’ve rounded up four ways for you to unearth culture on a visit to the nation’s capital this summer:

  • Rock out to free live music with several different regularly scheduled performances around the DC Metro Area through Labor Day. The amphitheater at Fort Dupont Park hosts concerts every Saturday evening; the lineup features R&B, hip hop and world music through Aug. 24. If daytime music is more your jam, check out the LIVE! Concert Series in Woodrow Wilson Plaza at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Concerts run from noon to 1 p.m., July 29 to Sept. 27. This summer’s performers will spotlight Brazilian Jazz, neo soul, bluegrass folk, reggae rock, country, pop rock and more.

In its 19th season, the free, daily lunchtime performances of the Live! Concert Series provide a taste of the DMV’s local music scene.

  • Marvel at fanciful forms of familiar wildlife in “The Life of Animals in Japanese Art,” which opened at the National Gallery of Art June 2 and runs through Aug. 18. The first NGA exhibition ever devoted to the subject covers 17 centuries of creativity, and it comprises a variety of media from sculpture and painting to ceramics and textiles. All told, there are more than 300 objects on display, including seven that have been designated as “Important Cultural Property” by the Japanese government.

Visitors enjoy an installation of Washington Color School works—including Sam Gilliam and Morris Louis—during NGA Nights.

  • Create your own lawn party at the National Building Museum, where “Lawn” opened July 4 and runs through Sept. 2. The immersive exhibit takes up nearly all 12,000 square feet of the building’s Great Hall, and offers the chance to play cornhole or croquet, enjoy refreshments, or just lay in the “grass.” The experience also has innovative audio components, with piped-in sounds of buzzing bees, chirping crickets, and whining lawnmowers. Be sure to lounge in one of the hammocks; each has hidden speakers programmed with popular American authors sharing some of their favorite summer memories.

Take in the grand architecture of the National Building Museum’s Great Hall. Courtesy of the National Building Museum.

  • Queens of Egypt,” a new exhibit at the National Geographic Museum, made its United States debut March 1 and recently was extended to Sept. 15. The exhibition highlights the most powerful women in ancient Egypt over a roughly 1,500-year period: Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, Nefertari, and, of course, Cleopatra. Peruse more than 300 ancient Egyptian artifacts including monumental statues and stone tools, embark on a 3-D walk-through of one of the most lavishly decorated tombs in the Valley of the Queens, and learn how to write your name in Hieroglyphics. The exhibit also features a technology-enhanced sequence that recreates everyday life in the craftsmen’s village of Deir el-Medina, mummified remains, and 11 beautifully painted sarcophagi.

Portraits of Queen Tiye. Clay and other materials. Photo by Caroline Thibault. An exhibition produced by Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex in collaboration with Museo Egizio, Turin, and in partnership with National Geographic Society, Washington DC.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in the nation’s capital, consider one of Kimpton’s many Washington DC or Virginia hotels.

Matt Villano


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