From large museums to boutique galleries, you have not shortage of options for discovering art in the Washington, D.C. area. This is also true for outdoor art — especially sculptures. Here are five great locations for some al fresco art viewing.
National Gallery Of Art Sculpture Garden
9th and Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20565
(202) 737-4215

Covering six acres of outdoor space, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is home to more than a dozen major works. Some of the most popular pieces are Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, Louise Bourgeois’ Spider, and Roy Lichtenstein’s House I. During the summer months, the park has live jazz music from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Friday evening, and during the winter months there is ice skating rink. The park’s Pavilion Café is great for lunch and afternoon snacks while enjoying the sculptures.

The Howard Theatre
620 T St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 803-2899

The Howard Theatre is not only a historic performing arts center, it is also the location of one of the city’s prized pieces of outdoor art. Encore, commissioned by the DC created by artist, Zachary Oxman, is a 20 foot tall stainless steel and granite sculpture that sits in the theater’s Ellington Plaza. The sculpture depicts Duke Ellington sitting upon a three dimensional treble clef and piano keys that shift in scale as they spiral upward. According to Oxman, the treble clef is reminiscent of Duke’s own handwritten musical scores. There are also a number of wall murals nearby such as Aniekan Oudofia and Liz Brown’s Gagged Washington, a piece inspired by Washingtonian’s lack of full representation in Congress. It is located at 1502 U St., N.W.

National Harbor
153 National Plaza
Oxon Hill, MD 20745
(877) 628 5427

Created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr., The Awakening was originally installed at Hains Point in D.C.’s East Potomac Park from 1980 to 2008. The sculpture now sits on a specially built beach along the Potomac River at the National Harbor Complex. The popular art piece is of a giant man “awaking” from beneath the ground. Only his head, hands, left knee, and right foot are visible.

Related: Best Outdoor Music Venues In Washington, D.C.

Dark Star Park
1655 Fort Myer Dr.
Arlington, VA 22209
(703) 228-3771

Northern Virginia’s Arlington County is home to more than sixty permanent public art projects. According to Arlington Public Art, the county’s arts commission, “Encompassing landscape architecture, sculpture, and astronomy, Dark Star Park by Nancy Holt is among the first major examples of ‘integrated public art’ that is inseparable from its setting and creates a total environment to be experienced.” The park’s most notable attractions are large concrete spheres that sit among the various paths and greenery.

Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden And Plaza
700 Independence Ave. S.W.
Washington, DC 20560
(202) 633-1000

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum is one of the world’s top museums of contemporary and modern art. Its outdoor sculpture garden and plaza, covering approximately 4.5 acres, provide a rotating selection of artwork. In these outdoor areas more than 60 works of art are typically on display all year. The museum frequently holds special events in the garden and plaza during the warmer months.

Related: Five Must-See Museums In Washington, D.C.

Based in Washington, D.C., Troy Petenbrink is a freelance writer, blogger and social media influencer. A member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association, he has written for Fodor’s, Travel Channel, and Miami Herald, among other outlets.