7 Unmissable Art Exhibitions To See In Washington, DC In 2020

The United States is brimming with cultural sights to see and undeniably artistic exhibitions that are well worth travelling for. And, what better place to dive into the cultural side of the United States of America than at the country’s capital city of Washington, DC?

More than 1.5 million visitors descend upon Washington,  DC each year to admire the 3,000-plus cherry blossom trees that bloom each spring. However, in 2020, the city’s expecting even more visitors, and for a variety of other reasons. 

As one of the world’s hottest travel destinations for 2020, you’re going to want to plan your cultural trip soon. And, lucky for you, the city’s putting on quite a show this year. Visit any one of our picks for the best art exhibitions to see in Washington, DC in 2020 and prepare to lay eyes on some of the world’s most marvellous pieces of art.

Best Art Exhibitions To See In Washington, DC In 2020How do these rankings work?

1. Raphael and His Circle – National Gallery of Art

With the Raphael and His Circle exhibit, the National Gallery of Art aims to showcase some of the artists’ finest works. Namely, this exhibit will highlight 26 different prints and drawings from its own collection of works by Raphael’s circle of contemporaries. And, they’ll debut four drawings by the Renaissance artist himself. All in all, it’s slated to be one of the most impressive art exhibits of 2020 in terms of Renaissance art.

2020 Dates: February 16th to June 14th

Best Art Exhibitions to See in Washington DC 2020
© Raphael, Eight Apostles, c. 1514. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Woodner Collection.

2. In Mid-Sentence – National Portrait Gallery

Honestly, you can visit any one of the exhibits at the National Portrait Gallery and find yourself inspired and impressed. However, the exhibit In Mid-Sentence is particularly enchanting. Above all, the exhibit shines in its presentation of communication. It aims to showcase “intimate confessions, public speeches, exchanged jokes, political confrontations, lectures and more.”

2020 Dates: Now until March 8th, 2020

Best Art Exhibitions to See in Washington DC 2020
© Robert Adelman Estate. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Robert Adelman / Gelatin silver print, 1963 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

3. Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists – National Art Musem

Women have long been one of the driving forces of Native American art, and this spring people will finally get a chance to view a fabulous collection of artwork from some of the most prolific Native women artists. The museum notes that there will be over 80 different pieces, ranging from textiles and beadwork to sculpture, time-based media and photography.

2020 Dates: February 21st to May 17th

Christi Belcourt (Métis),The Wisdom of the Universe, 2014, acrylic on canvas; Art Gallery Ontario, Toronto; Purchased with funds donated by Greg Latremoille © Christi Belcourt

4. Future Sketches by Zach Lieberman – Artechouse

Any exhibition put on by Artechouse is surely going to be one of the best art exhibitions to visit in Washington, DC in 2020. However, this year it begins with Future Sketches by Zach Lieberman. It’s slated to be stimulatory and immersive in nature. The museum sells it by saying “Imagine different possible futures, for the intersection of computation and design, for the interaction between humans and computers, and for an expressive augmented reality. Now, imagine yourself in it.”

2020 Dates: January 17th to March 1st

Best Art Exhibits to Visit in Washington DC 2020
© Zach Lieberman

5. Pat Steir: Color Wheel – Hirshorn Museum

One of the most stunning art exhibitions to visit in Washington, DC in 2020 will feature the largest collection of artwork by abstract artist Pat Steir to date. The second floor of the museum will transform into a vibrant spectrum of colour, creating for some delightfully eccentric views from around the hall. According to the artist, these colourful pieces reflect “metaphysical ideas of harmony with nature expressed in Zen Buddhist and Daoist thought.”

2020 Dates: Now until September 7th

© Pat Steir: Color Wheel; 24 October 2019 to 07 September 2020; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

6. Chiura Obata: American Modern – Renwick Gallery

Japanese artist Chiura Obata first immigrated to the San Francisco in 1903. It is that experience upon which he drew his inspiration. He eventually became famous for showcasing “majestic views of the American West, sketches based on hiking trips to capture what he called “Great Nature.” The exhibit will feature over 150 different pieces of artwork. It’s an absolute must for visitors interested in Americana artwork.

2020 Dates: Now until May 25th

© Chiura Obata, Grand Canyon, May 15th, 1940

7. Experience America – Smithsonian American Art Museum 

The 1930s was a lively time for artists in America. Through President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the federal government paid them to paint and sculpt and urged them to look to the nation’s land and people for subjects.

So, for the next decade—until World War II brought support to a halt—the country’s artists captured the beauty of the landscape, the industry of America’s working people, and a sense of community shared in towns large and small despite the Great Depression. This exhibition of painting mainly from 1934 gives you an insight into American life at the time.

2020 Dates: Ongoing

Untitled - 1965.18.43 - 64716

Elizabeth Thorn

Elizabeth has lived and worked in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, all of which have contributed to her passion for travel writing. When she's not writing, you can find her exploring little hideouts in Colombia or watching photography tutorials on YouTube.

Contact: [email protected]

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