Best 2013 Museum Exhibitions To Look Forward To In Washington DC

December 24, 2012 8:00 AM

National Building Museum (credit:

National Building Museum (credit:

National Building Museum (credit:

There are so many great museums in D.C., and it can take hours, days and maybe even longer to go through just one. Focusing on one extraordinary exhibit is perfect for those with limited time or specific passions. There is truly something for everyone. From photography to architecture, science to pottery, you are certain to find something that interests you. Start 2013 off right by exploring some of the most exciting exhibits at D.C. museums.

Palaces For the People: Gustavino and America’s Great Public Spaces
National Building Museum
401 F St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 272-2448

Dates: March 16 to Sept. 2
Price: $8 for adults/$5 for youths, students and seniors/free for museum members

Unless you studied architecture, are studying architecture, or just have a passion for architecture, the odds that the name Rafael Gustavino will sound familiar to you are very slim. It is likely, however, you have seen his or his son’s work. Both Gustavino Sr. and Jr. are responsible for some of the recognizable places in the country, including Grand Central Terminal. More close to home, the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium contains Gustavino tile. These Spanish immigrants permanently altered the American architectural landscape, thereby leaving their mark in history. Stop by and fall in love with the Gustavinos.

Related: Best Free Art Activities in D.C.

According To What?
Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Independence Avenue and 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20560
(202) 633-1000

Dates: Oct. 7 to Feb. 24
Price: free

There are many today, in the past and in the future who believe true art comes from defiance, unrest or the revolt of the status quo. For Ai Weiwei, some his art is the result of defying what the Chinese government deems acceptable. Along with installations, Weiwei is a sculptor, audio/visual artist, photographer and curator. He is also an avid user of social media as an art form. He stands firm in his beliefs and corresponding art, even being arrested for it last year. In his exhibit at the Hirshorn, he utilizes his many talents to question cultural values and political authority.

Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa
National Museum of African Art
950 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20560
(202) 633-4600

Dates: April 22, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014
Price: free

To say the continent of Africa is full of rich and varying cultures and history is an understatement. These regions and countries have provided great contributions to science, math, anthropology and, equally as important, in art. African art has been known for displaying a  powerful connection to nature and the divine. This exhibit showcases the bond African artists share with the land; both as a source of material and inspiration for their art. Look forward to several pieces ranging from the 1700s to today. This includes groundbreaking land art installations created in the Smithsonian Gardens.

Portraits of Planet Ocean
National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20560
(202) 633-1000

Date: March 5
Price: free

The beauty of nature is not lost in photography, but often enhanced and made accessible. Many people who will be unable to explore oceans personally, so they rely on photographers like those by Brian Skerry to bring the ocean to them. In this exhibit, Skerry brings the world’s endangered and threatened animals and ecosystems front and center. See animals that you might not even knew existed as well as familiar ones in a new light. You will feel like you are swimming with a school of Atlantic Bluefin tuna, keeping your distance from a hammerhead shark, or traveling with a Beluga whale. These photos are beautiful, but they also show you the real threat of extinction many species in the ocean face. Explore the beauty of the oceans while learning about the state some of its inhabitants.

Time and Navigation
National Air and Space Museum
6th Street and Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20560
(202) 663-2214

Date: March
Price: free

In these modern times navigation doesn’t seem like a big deal. You can get turn-by-turn directions to whatever destination you like on your computer, tablet and even your phone. Thanks to satellites, navigating has become extremely convenient. A few centuries ago, there were no such fancy devices, and navigation was done by keeping accurate time. This exhibit will focus on the relationship between time and navigation in space, sea, land and air. Plan to learn about the advances that made navigation easier, and what has yet to be discovered.

Related: Best Places to Buy Local Art for Less Than $100 in D.C.

Folashade Oyegbola is a freelance writer covering all things D.C. Her work can be found on

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