Wonder at the Renwick

For all the time I spend mentally planning trips around the world, I don’t do nearly enough exploring in my own city (which is by all accounts a wonderful place to explore—it topped Lonely Planet’s list of must-visit destinations in 2015). Lately, I’ve tried to change that and become more of a tourist in my own (adopted) town. After all, I’ve only lived here a year and a half—I still have that newcomer sense of wonder when I take the time to consciously appreciate my surroundings.

But for those Washingtonians (or visitors) who might be a bit more jaded about #ThisTown, the newly-reopened Renwick Gallery is making a strong effort to revive a sense of wonder in everyone. 

After a two-year renovation, the Renwick reopened with the debut of WONDER, an exhibition that takes over the whole museum space with installations inspired by each one’s dedicated gallery. It includes work by nine contemporary artists, whose individual pieces come together to transform the museum into a “larger-than-life work of art” (that’s true).

This weekend, I finally got around to seeing the exhibition for myself. (Two months after it opened. Even though the museum is a block from my office. I really need to get better at engaging with my surroundings.) A few photos follow—photography is encouraged, and the installations are very Insta-friendly, but if you’re in DC, you’ve really got to experience these works of art in person.

Janet Echelman, 1.8
John Grade, Middle Fork
Patrick Dougherty, Shindig
Leo Villareal, Volume
Jennifer Angus, In the Midnight Garden
Gabriel Dawe, Plexus A1

If you go: Like all Smithsonian museums, it’s free to get in. Go early to avoid crowds. Afterward, head to Swing’s for coffee or Teaism for lunch and, of course, tea (and salty oat cookies—they’re a must). Four of the installations will be leaving after May 8 and three more will follow on July 10, so plan your trip sooner rather than later.


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