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Posted at 2:14 PM ET, 12/26/2006

Out With the Old: Artsy Edition

By Julia Beizer

With the New Year fast approaching -- have you made your NYE plans yet? -- we thought we'd take the week to look back at some of our favorite D.C. happenings of 2006.

As the resident art girl, I've had the opportunity to see some amazing work over the past year. The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery reopened to much fanfare after a six-year renovation. "Dada" -- a massive exhibit showcasing all of the movement's heavy hitters -- opened at the National Gallery, as did a show of Cezanne's beautiful work. Jim Lambie created an elaborate tape display for the Hirshhorn's lobby floor and Washington Project for the Arts/Corcoran hosted evening events showcasing art in experiemental media.

Fusebox, a beloved Washington gallery, and Numark Gallery were among the area art spaces that closed their doors this year, but other new galleries (Meat Market, Cross Mackenzie, Dissident Display, to mention a few) sprung up around town.

So the year's been busy.

There were many great exhibits and programs along the way, but when I think back on the year's greatest hits, I'm drawn to the events, exhibits and programs when museums and galleries engaged the public. There's so much great art in this town. Events like the ones listed below made the community feel like a part of it.

--When the American Art Museum and Portrait Galllery reopened as the Reynolds Center in June, the museums adopted a new set of hours, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., instead of the Smithsonian standard of 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The results have been amazing. Visitors have been flocking to the museum during those bonus hours and perks like the museum's wine-serving Portico Cafe have helped make the museum a destination for people who live here -- not just out-of-towners.

--The Hirshhorn also realized the untapped potential of the after-work hours by throwing several Hirshhorn After Hours events, with drinks, music and new exhibits in the upstairs galleries.

--Galleries in the area have organized coordinated openings for years now (see: First Fridays), but the 14th Street Corridor's opening in September really took the cake. You could barely walk inside the galleries at 1515 14th Street. Though admittedly not great for art viewing, the crammed atmosphere was fun and different -- and that's something that can bring new people into the art-loving fold.

--D.C. residents may not get to vote for a true federal respresentative, but we now have an art collection to call our own. The Wilson Building's new collection brings together some of the best local artists.

-Finally, the Building Museum's Green House exhibit, which showcases environmentally friendly building solutions, advances an agenda more than museum exhibits typically do and I found that to be a welcome change. Instead of just telling about the history of green design, the exhibit offers tips on how exhibit-goers can go green and change the world they live in. Isn't that something every institution should strive for?

Got any favorite exhibits from 2007? Let us know in the comments field below.


By Julia Beizer  | December 26, 2006; 2:14 PM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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