Located across Pennsylvania Ave from the White House, you’ll find the Renwick Gallery. We like to refer to the Renwick as “one of the coolest free museums in the city”. The Renwick is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is therefore free and open almost every day of the year (seriously, only closed on Christmas). The Renwick Gallery is all about showcasing contemporary art. Or in other words, the things in the Renwick’s rotating collection will have you scratching your head in absolute wonder. Or thinking, ‘this is too cool to be considered ‘art”. The two-story building is easily done in an hour (depending on the exhibit) which allows you to catch it even if you have a a short amount of time.
Some of the exhibits are more permanent in nature and the first floor is usually reserved for the rotating exhibits. For a while, one of the exhibits was called “Wonder”. While the entire exhibit was only a handful of items, they were each so unique and beautiful that we made trips back several times just to lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling (seriously you can do that!).
Part of “Wonder” was a rainbow installation made completely of string. Who would have thought that lining string up next to each other in rainbow order WOULD BE SO PRETTY? Yeah not us. Clearly we’re not artistic.
In late 2017-early 2018, there was an exhibit called ‘Murder is Her Hobby’ and focused soley on the work of Frances Glessner Lee. She was a former police captain (the first female!!) who created small models of crime scenes in order to help train other police officers. The exhibit featured several of her crime scene recreations and you, as a guest, could read the story and analyze the crime scene for yourself. As a true crime buff, Shannon was absolutely head over heels in love.
Because of its size and location, it is a great location for tourists and locals alike. If you work downtown, you can easily pop in and enjoy the museum over lunch. If you’re leaving your East Wing White House tour and aren’t done sightseeing, you can easily go and satisfy your creative side without trekking down to the Mall.
- Open 10am to 5:30PM every day, except Christmas.
- Admission: Free
- FYI: Don’t bring large bags- they’ll search your stuff upon entry but mostly it just makes things more crowded.
- Closed February 20-March 29, 2018 for installation of No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man
- It’s crowded on weekends– lines can go out the door. If you’re in town during the week, try and visit midday or in the morning.