Fun Ideas for Makers In and Around Washington, DC
Looking for fun ideas for makers in and around Washington, DC? Capital idea!! As home to the Smithsonian and other publicly funded sites, you can fill your day with inspiration free of charge. (However, donations are gratefully accepted.) With the wonders of the Internet, you can check each venue ahead of time and therefore plan accordingly. The Metrorail is a great way to get around, so check to see if there are Metro stations near your chosen locations.
Wear comfortable shoes – the major museums are huge, and you will take many steps. For a break, many venues have cafés where you can get a light meal or just a cup of tea.
National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art is encompasses three locations on Constitution Avenue – the Sculpture Garden, the West Building and the East Building (pictured). You will find art of every kind here. Do you like Renaissance artists, Impressionists, Abstract Impressionists, Collage, Outsider Art? Covered, done, got ’em, yep, of course. Exhibitions change frequently, so even if you’ve visited the National Gallery before, you’ll find plenty of new inspiration.
National Portrait Gallery
Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the National Portrait Gallery tells the story of America by presenting poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists who lives form our national identity. Over 23,000 items, from daguerreotypes to digital, reside here. In 2006, the Portrait Gallery hosted the first Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition which brings new works into the collection. Michelle Obama selected, Amy Sherald, the 2016 winner of the Boochever prize, to paint her official portrait as First Lady.
In Explore! with the Portrait Gallery, kids can experiment with portraiture in an age-appropriate way to answer questions such as “What is a portrait?” How do I see myself?” and “How do others see me?” Young visitors can trace each other’s silhouettes, pose for a projected video art piece and experiment with expression and emotion by building faces out of illustrated blocks.
The National Quilt Collection at the National Museum of American History
Quilt makers and quilt lovers alike will find inspiration at the National Quilt Collection within the National Museum of American History. The quilts are as unique as their makers and reflect their interests, family milestones, politics, societal concerns, war and peace.
The National Quilt Collection incorporates quilts from various ethnic groups and social classes, for quilts can be a part of anyone’s heritage. Whether of rich or humble fabrics, large in size or small, expertly crafted or not, well-worn or pristine, quilts in the National Quilt Collection provide a textile narrative that contributes to America’s complex and diverse history. The variety and scope of the collection provides a rich resource for researchers, artists, quilt-makers and others.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women in the arts, and it’s easily accessible in the heart of the nation’s capital. In addition to contemporary American women artists, NMWA champions women artists of all periods and from all parts of the world. The permanent collection includes over 5,000 works, and the museum presents ten exhibitions a year, so there is always new art to explore. Education programs and an extensive research library are dynamic elements that inspire participation with art and ideas. NMWA brings to light important women artists of the past while promoting great women artists working today.
There is a nominal admission fee; free to members.
The Textile Museum
On the Foggy Bottom campus of The George Washington University, The Textile Museum is an international center for the exhibition, study, collection and preservation of the textile arts. Its collections include some of the world’s finest examples of rugs and textiles from the Near East, Central Asia, East and Southeast Asia, Africa and the indigenous cultures of the Americas.
“Textiles 101,” a new permanent interactive exhibit at The Textile Museum, explores how fiber, color and structure influence how textiles are made, so it allows visitors to enter the mind of designers to discover the creative choices that influence textile design.
Admission is free for museum members, children and current GW students, faculty and staff. But a suggested nominal donation for non-members will support the museum’s exhibitions, collections and educational programs.
The Lemon Collective
If you’re looking for a hands-on maker experience, The Lemon Collective might just be your place. In this workshop space in Washington D.C., the city’s creative and curious gather to teach and learn new skills. They are located on Georgia Avenue NW in the Park View neighborhood. In addition to offering an eclectic collection of workshops, The Lemon Collective offers studio space. And if reaching out to the community is important to you, Lemon + Aid can help. Lemon + Aid is a charitable initiative from The Lemon Collective that brings awareness and support to deserving organizations, reaching out to the community and making it easy to be of service.
Torpedo Factory Art Center
Founded in 1974 in an old munitions plant, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to the nation’s largest collection of working-artists’ open studios under one roof. It is home to over 165 professional artists who work, exhibit, and sell their art. So the Torpedo Factory Art Center attracts artists from across the region and around the world. As a stellar example of how the arts can revitalize a community, it serves as a prototype for visual arts facilities throughout the world.
An Alexandria landmark for more than 40 years, (and, yes, until 1945 workers really made torpedoes there) it’s the highlight of the Potomac Riverfront, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors annually.
The mission is to foster connections among artists and the public that ignite the creative spirit. So they provide dynamic interactions with the arts through a community of visual artists, exhibitions, and programs. They offer art up close, in person, and in progress, so you’ll find artwork in a wide variety of media. Painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, stained glass, fiber, printmaking, and sculpture are in 82 artists’ studios. As a result, you can observe the creative process and ask questions. Then you can purchase original work for your own collection.
An art gallery and vocational arts program dedicated to creating opportunities for artists with disabilities, Art Enables provides a space to make, market and earn income from their original and compelling artwork. Here, artists build the skills, relationships, and experience necessary for a successful career in the arts. Art Enables offers their artists the creative space, materials, and marketing support they need to develop and succeed as professionals.
Since its founding in 2001, Art Enables believes that artists with disabilities are vital to a robust arts landscape. So they should have the opportunity to pursue art as a vocation and career. The artists experience a broad range of developmental and cognitive disabilities as well as mental health challenges including autism, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, among others.
The artists are largely self-taught, so they tell honest, unfiltered, and powerful stories through their artwork. In addition to earning income from art sales, the artists achieve a sense of personal and professional accomplishment. So you won’t want to miss this gallery!