ARTECHOUSE has explored a variety themes and concepts through digital art since it opened in Southwest DC just over four years ago. The gallery known for its fusion of art and technology has presented exhibitions inspired by seasons, space, natural phenomenon, color, and more themes that are part of our human experience, though outside of our actual beings.
The newest exhibition, Life of a Neuron, takes us on the inside as it features the “thinking cells” of the brain.
As ARETCHOUSE describes it: “Life of a Neuron brings artists and scientists together for a groundbreaking collaboration to explore how the brain shapes the shared human experience. Through collaboration with the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s leading scientists and creatives, this immersive exhibit will allow us to experience a neuron—from pre-birth to death—providing an experiential view of life at a cellular level.”
Like all exhibitions there, the core installation is the digital projections in the main gallery. Trippy, captivating scenes swirl around the walls and floors while dramatic music plays in the background. It’s interesting to see what kinds of images and color combinations are coming next. (Note: While some past exhibits at ARTEHOUSE have been soothing and peaceful, this one isn’t so much, something to be aware of for kids who are sensitive to a lot of stimulation.)
The side galleries feature smaller installations with interactive elements. They looked intriguing, though to be honest, it was difficult to get a close look at all of them during the media preview, as we were trying to maintain space. (Timed-entry tickets during the exhibit’s run should keep that from being an issue.)
The bar is back open — Thursday – Monday, 11am – 10pm — with its menu of exhibit-inspired cocktails, plus beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks. Sasha and I enjoyed refreshing sodas, and I recommend the Rosemary Cardamom! Be sure to download the ARTECHOUSE the app for the “extended reality” experience that transforms drinks into sparkling sensations!
Life of a Neuron
Where: ARTECHOUSE | 1238 Maryland Ave. SW
When: September 27 – November 28
Admission: $24/adult, $17/age 4-15, free/under 4
Give David some new duds at Inside the Wardrobe. XO
As we emerge from the pandemic — and our comfy “house” clothes — many of us are ready and excited for new, unique experiences. One just opened in Georgetown, and it’s timely, relevant, and so much fun to explore: Inside the Wardrobe, an interactive art installation and fashion funhouse celebrating the return to getting dressed in real clothes and going out again.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard about the “journey through more than 20 interactive experiences focused on the fun and tactile nature of engaging with your closet.” But I was intrigued. I like clothes and fashion (though actually being fashionable is another story), plus I love checking out new things around town, especially after missing them for so long. So I visited with my friend, Torey, last weekend (my kids were way at camp) and we had a blast exploring it all!
The 20,000 square foot space in Georgetown Park contains more than 20 exhibits/spaces, all them wildly creative, fashion-inspired, interactive, even kind of trippy. It’s meant to be very Instagrammy — there is even a Hall of Selfies and placemarks on the floor for getting your best shots — which is not usually my thing; I prefer to be behind the camera. However, the imaginative environments and fun experiences had me both snapping and posing away!
There are interactives and photo ops galore as you explore different components of fashion. You can try on paper doll cutouts, play with size in a fun house, get a close look at beautiful handiwork, take pics in whimsical and delightful settings, strut the catwalk, and so much more.
I can’t wait to return with my kids when they get back — I know they’ll dig it, too. (Though I can also see this being something teen friends would love doing on their own.)
What’s your favorite outfit?
Inside the Wardrobe runs through August 29 September 26 (extended!) in Georgetown Park located at 3720 M Street NW (across from the DMV). Hours are Thursday – Friday 5-9pm, Saturday – Sunday 10am – 9pm. Admission is $28/adult | $24/students, seniors, military | $19/age 4 and up — a little steep, but worth it if you’re looking for something unique and delightful to do.
You have to be on the ball to score tickets to Glenstone, the modern art museum sprawling gloriously over 300 acres in Potomac, MD. Even pre-Covid, passes were hard to get. They are released on the first of every month for timed-entry admission for the following two months. So, tickets that are released tomorrow, April 1, will be for visits in May and June. This takes some patience and planning, but I promise it’s worth it.
Glenstone is more than just a museum; it’s a whole experience. One that transports you to what feels like a destination far, far away from the city. Both indoor galleries (that should start to reopen April 8) and expansive grounds showcase a remarkable collection and traveling exhibits that are interesting, evocative, and beautiful. Design and architectural features are practically works of art themselves, and you will likely find yourself studying lines of the buildings and the pool of aquatic plants in the courtyard as much as the paintings and sculptures.
Exploring all of it on foot in the galleries and along paved paths spanning through open grassy areas, trails winding through woods, and boardwalks that zigzag over thick brush (or straw during cold months) add some recreation to the outing. It’s like an art-filled hike or an active art adventure. There’s also a cafe to make it a lunch date or to enjoy a snack in a very scenic setting.
Pick up a paper map on your way in or scan a QR code for one. You definitely want to know where you’re going as some of the outdoor installations are a bit hidden, and you don’t want to miss them. Inside, the galleries are numbered, so make sure you count them all off, too. There’s at least one that is easy to miss, and we had to search a bit to find it (though that also added some extra fun).
With its 12-and-older age policy for visitors, Glenstone is automatically a spot for the T(w)een Scene. And while this may be a bummer to parents with younger kids, I get why they do it. It’s not just that the art might be considered sophisticated for little ones. (In the “eye of the beholder” vein, I think all art could be enjoyed and appreciated on some level by every age.) Part of the Glenstone experience is the peaceful, “contemplative environment,” as they call it. I could see it being tough to keep kiddos from wanting to bolt through wide open spaces outside and use inside voices in the echoing galleries. I’ve been a few times sans kids, with friends, and on my own — a different season each visit — and I highly recommend it for a grown-up outing, whether a day date, a visit with friends, or solo.
That said, both of my kids are finally old enough to go, and I’m looking forward to bringing them. I had tickets for all us to visit when they had a day off from school recently, but a crazy downpour that day thwarted those plans. Thus, I’ll be online tomorrow trying to score those elusive tickets again.
Glenstone is located at 12100 Glen Road in Potomac, MD. It’s currently open Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm. You must have a ticket to visit. As mentioned, free tickets are released the first day of every month at 10am for the following two months. Photography is not permitted indoors, hence all the outdoor images here.
Cherry blossom season is one of the best times of the year to be in DC. Not only is the city at its prettiest when the iconic flowers are in bloom, there usually are loads of special events and activities to celebrate it all. It’s also when I share my tips for viewing the famous flowers, an annual post that I love and have been updating since 2011 that others seem to enjoy as well (it’s always very highly viewed and shared).
For obvious reasons, so much about cherry blossom season is different this year. It still remains to be seen what kind of access to the Tidal Basin the National Park Service will allow to see the peak bloom, which is predicted to occur April 2-5. Big, beloved in-person events like the Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri have been cancelled along with museum programs that used to be IRL. And my annual viewing tips… well, much of them apply to seeing them at the Tidal Basin, so they may not get a redux this spring.
However, there still are some fantastic ways to celebrate cherry blossom season! The National Cherry Blossom Festival (NCBF), running March 20 – April 11, has reimagined many of its events as at-home or virtual activities to present them safely for Covid. And even though we may not be able to experience the bloom at its best near the National Mall, there are other spots to enjoy the pink and white brilliance around the area. I’ve highlighted the best of all of it for families to help you plan for a peak experience. Happy Spring!
Peak bloom in Stanton Park
Cherry Blossom Viewing
Where: Around the DMV
When: Late March – Early April
Viewing the cherry blossoms is the top thing to do during the season. As we’re still awaiting guidelines for viewing at the Tidal Basin this year, here’s a tip that comes straight from my annual post from previous years: Seek out other spotsto see the bloom. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to enjoy them. National Harbor has 200 trees planted on it grounds. Stanton Park on Capitol Hill flourishes with pick and white come spring. Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has a lovely collection of cherry trees. In Northern Virginia, Green Spring Gardens and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens have some of the pretty trees to see, too. (Thinking I should just put together a whole post about viewing sites…) In the meantime, check out these scenes from a peak bloom past.
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 15 – September 6
Admission: $24/adult, $17/age 4-15, free/under 4
ARTECHOUSE introduces a new exhibit every season, and spring is always inspired by the cherry blossoms in some way. Here’s the description of year’s show, Renewal 2121: “Transporting us 100 years into the future, it immerses us in an industrial city where nature fights to survive amid an overdeveloped metropolis. This is a future that will arrive if humanity continues unchecked at its current pace. However, there is a hopeful message to be discovered as blossoms are seen peeking through the plastic, concrete and neon lights, ready to renew the season with the help of those willing to take action.”
National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony
When: March 20, 6pm
The Festival’s signature Opening Ceremony, an artistic celebration of the 1912 gift of trees from Tokyo to DC is also an annual tribute to the longstanding friendship between Japan and the United States. Watch a livestream of the event that will feature special performances from acclaimed artists with ties to both countries.
Petal Porch Parade
Where: At home & around the DC area
When: March 20 – April 11
Since we can’t have a big parade, locals are invited to get creative and show their cherry blossom spirit by decorating their porches, yards, or windows — and spread joy to neighbors and connect communities across the region! The National Cherry Blossom Festival will produce a virtual map with locations of all registered Petal Porches, so you can plan a walk or drive to see and share in the celebration of spring. On the weekend of April 10-11, a Petal Procession will drive through select Petal Porch Parade neighborhoods in and around DC. So, get your neighbors to register and join in the springtime celebration to increase your chances of having the Petal Procession cruise through your ‘hood!
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: March 20 – April 11
Celebrate spring and the blossoms at the The Wharf. Bloomaroo will bring nearly a month of cherry blossom-themed art installations, and specialty cocktails. Anime Movie Days will have 13 anime movie screenings, including the newest Sonic the Hedgehog movie, from March 26 through April 11 — all films will be dubbed in English. Check out a special mural created by ARTECHOUSE, too. Restaurants at the waterfront destination will have cherry blossom-inspired menus, and keep an eye out for special samplings, beer dinners, and more. Ride the Wharf Jitney or hop on the Water Taxi for an up-close look at DC’s favorite landmarks — the cherry trees. For more about The Wharf, see this KFDC post.
Book Hill in Bloom
Where: Book Hill Community | Georgetown, DC
When: March 20 – April 11
Georgetown is celebrating cherry blossom season at its Book Hill community. More than 25 small businesses on upper Wisconsin Avenue are participating by decorating their storefronts with pink and cherry blossom-themed decorations, offering special promotions, and donating prizes for an enter-to-win drawing.
Art in Bloom on Capitol Hill
Art in Bloom Where: Around the DC area When: March 20-31 Admission: Free
This visual arts exhibition spanning all eight wards of DC, plus a few areas in Maryland and Virginia, radiates the spirit of spring! Go on a Blossom Hunt to find 26 oversized cherry blossom statues painted by local artists and share on Instagram or Twitter with the #artinbloom tag. The NCB will randomly select winners of Festival prize packages.
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Sundays during the Festival
With in-person Sakura Matsuri, the annual Japanese street fair presented during the Festival, off this year, National Harbor is stepping in. Free cultural activities, including Japanese inspired art creations, culinary classes, in person or virtual, and much more will be offered there. See what else will be at National Harbor during the season.
Virtual Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: American Art Museum | Online
When: March 20, 10am
Join the Smithsonian American Art Museum for a virtual program full of springtime fun for the whole family. Enjoy a lively performance of traditional Japanese Taiko drumming by the group Nen Daiko. Then learn more as the group demonstrates how they plan their performances and design their own instruments. Explore art, nature, and color with SAAM‘s docents in the new virtual edition of our popular Art Cart series. For more activities, check out their ongoing Family Zone for seasonal crafts, coloring pages, videos, and more. Register here.
Where: Alley off 7th St NW (btwn H & G) | Gallery Place, DC
When: March 20 – April 30
Visit DowntownDC’s ChalkWalk to step into an immersive spring art experience. It will be a unique, Instagrammy, and cherry blossom-inspired 3D art installation backdrop to celebrate spring in the city. Share your photos using the hashtag #ChalkWalkDC for a chance to win prizes from the DowntownDC BID.
Pop-Up Street Theater
Where: Locales around Arlington, VA
When: March 21 & 28 April 4 & 11 | 11am – 2pm
Synetic Theatre, which presents some of the most innovative shows around, will be clowning around with pop-up performances all around Arlington during the Festival. To work with these social distancing times, they are bringing back street theater as a pair of improv actors make appearances at the Art Wall in Virginia Highlands Park, the Crystal City Water Park, and the Long Bridge Park Esplanade.
Blossom Kite Fly
Where: Your backyard or local park
When: March 27-28
The annual Kite Festival on the Mall — one of the best events of the NCBF (& anytime in DC, for that matter) — is not happening this year. Instead, the Festival encourages all to take part in the kite-flying tradition on their own — but with the help of workshops and demos. Find more information about registering here.
Celebrating Cherry Blossoms
Where: National Museum of Asian Art | Online
When: March 27, 10-10:45am
Just in time for peak bloom, ring in the arrival of spring with the art doctors in this online Art & Me Preservation Family Workshop. From paintings to Japanese tea bowls, discover how Smithsonian conservators preserve these colorful artworks. Then try your hand at making your own cherry blossom-inspired creation. Designed for ages 3-8 and caretakers. Register in advance, one per family, and a Zoom link and list of suggested materials will be sent to participants 24–48 hours in advance of the workshop.
Blossoms & Baseball Drive-in
Where: Akridge Lot | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 2 & 3, 7pm
The Capitol Riverfront BID is welcoming the spring season back to the neighborhood during MLB Opening Day Weekend with cherry blossom cheer and baseball-themed movies featuring 42: The True Story of an American Legend and A League of Their Own.
Kimono for Kids
Where: GWU & Textile Museum | Online
When: April 3, 11am – 1pm
Kids can enjoy an interactive discussion of Japanese traditional clothing, plus a simple craft project made from materials found at home and inspired by Japanese textiles in this program led by staff from the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. Be sure to register to get the program link.
Virtual Sakura Matsuri
When: April 3, 12-3pm
Join Japan-America Society of Washington DC for the Sakura Matsuri – Virtual Community Gathering. Enjoy stage performances and the opportunity to interact live with many of your favorite Sakura Matsuri exhibitors, vendors and participants.
* Do you know of a great cherry blossom event that’s not listed here? Let us all know in the comments!
February is Black History Month, and if you’re looking for ways to celebrate it with kids, you have plenty of options, both virtually and in person around the DC area. Museum programs, guided and self-guided tours, visits to significant sites, story time sessions, online concerts, and more will be enlightening and entertaining for all ages. And while some of these are happening on specific dates this month, many of them are ongoing for year-round enjoyment and education. For even more good reads and related content, check out the Black Lives Matter page.
African American History and Culture
Where: NMAAHC | Online
When: Through February
The National Museum of African American History & Culture may just be the best place to learn about Black history and culture in America. And while the actual place is closed right now, there still are lots of digital resources available through the website that let you explore it all, including online exhibits, programming for children and adults, and a whole section on talking about race.
The Underground Railroad Experience Trail
Where: Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park | Sandy Spring, MD
Take a hike that provides insight into the experience of enslaved peoples’ escape to freedom. This walk through woods and along edges of fields (with a map and explanation of the hike) is interesting and enlightening as well as an active, socially distanced way to spend time outdoors.
Visit BLM Plaza
Where: 16th Street NW | Downtown DC
The two blocks along 16th Street NW, between K Street and Lafayette Park just across from the White House, was emboldened with the giant yellow BLACK LIVES MATTER statement this past summer as the BLM movement began to swell after the murder of George Floyd. The now pedestrian area became a meeting place and focal point of protests and other events — and a site of historic significance in DC. The protest signs that covered the fence around the park have been removed, but the location still provides good context for a conversation with kids about BLM.
Where: Several locations in DC
Tour some memorials around the city that highlight notable African Americans and related historic events. Head to the MLK Memorial at the Tidal Basin, where you can view the grand sculpture of Dr. King and read some of his most inspiring quote engraved in surrounding walls. From there, head to the Lincoln Memorial, where even more MLK words, “I Have a Dream” are etched into the steps where he gave his famous speech. In the Shaw neighborhood, the African American Civil War Memorial honors the service and sacrifice of soldiers and sailors who served in the U.S. Army and Navy. On Capitol Hill, the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial in Lincoln Park isa tribute to the civil rights leader.
Discover Women’s Landmarks
Where: Various locations around the DMV
The Wander Women Project, a has gathered all the places honoring pioneer black women in the DMV area (and slightly further). Since many indoor museums are closed due to Covid-19, mostly outdoor sites and online resources are listed, making outings to visit to them perfect for social distancing.
Black History in MoCo Parks
Where: Parks around Montgomery County, MD
Several sites within the Montgomery Parks system have connections to Black history. See Civil War ruins, visit a place named for the man who inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin, explore the site of a 19th century African American roadside community, and more. Get more details here.
Black History with PG Parks
Where: Parks around PG County, MD
When: Through February
Celebrate and honor African American heritage with the PG County park system during Black History Month in February. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are a lot of exciting events and activities planned throughout Prince George’s County, both virtual and in person.
The Slave Memorial & Exhibits
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
Admission: $20/adult, $12/ages 6-11, free/5 & under
Make a point to see these on a visit to George Washington’s estate in Northern Virginia. The memorial is located approximately 50 yards southwest of George and Martha Washington’s tomb, on a bluff above the Potomac River. A gray, truncated, granite column which represents “life unfinished” is the center of three concentric brick circles. The three steps leading up to the column are inscribed, respectively, “Faith,” “Hope” and “Love” — the virtues that sustained those living in bondage. The exhibit Lives Bound Together explores the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery.
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Online
When: February 3, 10, 17, and 24
The National Portrait Gallery’s program for children ages 3+ shines a light on Black historymakers and their portraits this month. Kids will learn more about art, hear the stories behind the portraits, and even hear some new vocabulary.
Royal Fun with Culture Queen
When: February 6, 2-2:30pm & February 21, 1:30-2pm
Culture Queen, the children’s author, entertainer, and educator known for presenting empowering entertainment — music, movement, and storytelling — for kids, has a couple of online events this month. Join for Black History Live on February 6 and for a Virtual Dance Party on February 21.
Where: DC Public Library | Online
When: Throughout February
The DC Public Library proudly celebrates Black History Month during February with all kinds of online programs — story times, book discussions, crafts, and more. Visit the website to see when they are taking place.
Let It Shine
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: February 6 & 13
At the wonderful children’s museum in Baltimore, celebrate Black History Month by reading festive stories inside The Oasis at the Reading Corner. Of course, plan to enjoy the multiple levels of fun and educational exhibits while you’re there.
Black History Month at the Tiny Desk
Where: NPR Music | Online
When: Through February
NPR Music’s awesome Tiny Desk Concert series is celebrating Black History Month by featuring 13 Tiny Desk (home) concerts by Black artists across genres and highlighting performances by Black artists from the archives with weekly curated playlists. The celebration will spotlight different genres and generations each week.
*Do you know of a Black History Month event or activity that you don’t see listed here? Feel free to share in the comments!