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Posted at 10:01 AM ET, 02/ 2/2009

Up Next: February Arts

By Stephanie Merry

As the 200th anniversary of the 16th president's birthday rolls around this month, Lincoln-mania comes to Washington. The result is a flurry of exhibits with everything from the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln speeches and the Bible used during his swearing-in.

The Phillips will show that there's more to Morandi than bottles and bowls this month. (The Phillips Collection)

But there is a lot going on in the museum world in February beyond presidential artifacts. The American Art Museum has a show of paintings from 1934 created by the New Deal. In the six-month-long Public Works of Art Program, the government commissioned American artists to decorate public buildings, and 56 of those works will be on display.

Another promising Smithsonian show this month is the Louise Bourgeois exhibition at the Hirshhorn. The French-born avant-garde artist painted, drew and sculpted, sometimes using media like wax, electric lights and toy doll fragments.

If that's not enough of a spectacle, the Circus comes to Charm City -- sort of. The Baltimore Museum of Art hosts an exhibition of art celebrating clowns and high-flying acrobats with art by Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec and Leger.

For less of a sideshow, head to the National Gallery for a look at the seemingly peaceful (and windmill-dotted) city life of 17th-century Amsterdam (and other Dutch cities).

Meanwhile, the Phillips shows that there's more to Morandi than bottles and bowls with an exhibition of 45 paintings and 12 etchings. The show will include the painter's experimentation with metaphysical art as well as a rare spectacle: a self-portrait.

The local galleries also have a lot to offer this month. Art Whino will show John Malloy's mesmerizing (and often sobering) works that look at the personal impact of our consumer-driven culture through the prism of drug side effects. Other strangely troubling works show up at Civilian Art Projects, where Christopher Sims will exhibit photos from Guantanamo Bay. The pics, devoid of people, depict everyday life at Gitmo and include images of a deserted stadium, an empty conference room and a lonely jungle gym atop a stretch of dying grass.

And after all that, it's time for a little pick-me-up, so head to the DCist Exposed Photography Show at Flashpoint. The local blog gives photographers the opportunity to show our fair city in new and interesting ways, leading to inevitably entertaining and varied views of Washington.

Any other exhibits you're looking forward to in February?

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | February 2, 2009; 10:01 AM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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