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Boaters on Tidal Basin paddle boats during the National Cherry Blossom Festival - The best things to do this spring in Washington, DC

Learn about what’s to come in DC this spring and summer, from arts and cultural debuts to renovations and new festivals.

MARCH 2019
Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement
Newseum/March 8
The modern gay rights movement is examined on the 50th anniversary of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn and subsequent riots in NYC’s Greenwich Village that inspired a national awakening.

National Cherry Blossom Festival
Citywide/March 20-April 13
The perennial favorite, the nation’s largest springtime celebration packs weekends with spectacular family-friendly events including the Blossom Kite Festival (March 30); Petalpalooza at The Wharf (April 6) and the nationally televised parade (April 13) as well as the sublime if unpredictable arrival of the cherry blossoms that ring the Tidal Basin.

Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice
National Gallery of Art/March 24-July 7, 2019
In celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jacopo Tintoretto, a major exhibition from Palazzo Ducale in Venice will travel to DC – its only other venue. As the first retrospective of the artist in North America, the exhibition will present 50 paintings as well as more than a dozen works on paper spanning the artist’s entire career. His subjects range from regal portraits of Venetian aristocracy to religious and mythological narrative scenes.

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence, 1840-1920
National Portrait Gallery/March 29, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020
To usher the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, this exhibit considers the often-overlooked women and organizations that pushed the complex narrative of suffrage forward. Additional exhibits, symposia and performances inspired by the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment are expected to be announced.

Empresses of China’s Forbidden City: 1644-1912
Freer|Sackler/March 30-June 23
This exhibition is the first to explore the role of empresses in shaping China’s last dynasty - the Qing dynasty - from 1644 to 1912. Nearly 200 spectacular objects from the Palace Museum in Beijing tell the little-known stories of how imperial women influenced court politics, art and religion. The display is timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-China diplomatic relations.

APRIL 2019
Washington Auto Show
Walter E. Washington Convention Center/April 4-15
The largest annual exposition in the District, the annual event wows crowds with the latest models, demos and historic vehicles as well as live art car painting and meet-and-greets with sports stars and celebs.

The 3rd Annual Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Competition
Lisner Auditorium/April 26-28

Timed to coincide with “Jazz Appreciation Month,” the Blues Alley Jazz Society presents an international competition themed to the seminal record, “Ella and Basie.”

Arena Stage/April 26-June 2

The world premiere of Tazewell Thompson’s acapella musical about the legacy of the African American ensemble Fisk Jubilee Singers who have shattered racial barriers abroad and at home.

The Oresteia
Shakespeare Theatre/April 30-June 2
Veteran director Michael Kahn closes the season and his career with Ellen McLoughlin’s adaption of Aeschylus’ trilogy about the doomed house of Atreus. Kahn’s final season boasts two world premieres including Vanity Fair by Kate Hamill, The Wall Street Journal’s Playwright of the Year 2017.

RFK Redevelopment: Phase 1 Opening

RFK Stadium/Spring 2019, date TBD
The first major change to the 190-acre sports campus is underway with three fields: two for soccer and lacrosse, one for baseball and softball plus a large pavilion and support buildings are expected to deliver in the first half of 2019.

Washington Monument Reopens
National Mall/Spring 2019, date TBD
After a significant modernization, the popular monument reopens with a new visitor center, ticket booth and elevator.

MAY 2019
In Mid-Sentence
National Portrait Gallery/May 3, 2019-March 29, 2020

Photographs are largely replete with words unspoken; however, In Mid-Sentence is devoted to presenting moments of communication: intimate exchanges, political speeches, inside jokes, lecture and more. Among the communicators captured: John F. Kennedy, Daniel Ellsberg and Diane Arbus.

The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
National Gallery of Art/May 5-July 29

Representations of animals—real or imaginary, religious or secular—span the full breadth and splendor of Japanese art. The first exhibition devoted to the subject covers 16 centuries (from the sixth century to the present day) and a wide variety of media—sculpture, painting, lacquerwork, ceramics, metalwork, textile and the woodblock print. A selection of some 315 works displayed across 18,000-feet includes seven that are designated as Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. The artists represented range from Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Kuniyoshi, to Issey Miyake, Yayoi Kusama and Murakami Takashi.

Relocation of the International Spy Museum
L’Enfant Plaza/May 11
The museum dedicated to espionage moves from 800 F Street, NW to L’Enfant Plaza SW, between the National Mall and The Wharf. The new space is 140,000 square feet, more than twice the size of the original location, and will include space for educational programing, a lecture hall/theater and multifunction rooftop event space with sweeping views of the city.

JUNE 2019
National Fossil Hall Reopens

National Museum of Natural History/June 8, 2019
After a five-year closure, the Smithsonian reopens its spectacular collection of dinosaurs with an emphasis on presentation and current scientific research.

Seriously Funny: From the Desk of ‘The Daily Show with John Stewart’
Newseum/Opens June 14

As the 2020 presidential campaign heats up, this presentation showcases the role of political satire in shaping political engagement by spotlighting the popular Comedy Central series.

Women of Progress
National Portrait Gallery/June 14, 2019-May 31, 2020

A presentation of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes from the 1840s and 1850s of early feminist icons including author Harriet Beacher Stowe and activist Margaret Fuller.

The Warmth of Other Suns
Phillips Collection/June 22-Sept. 22
Based on The Restless Earth, shown at the Triennale in Milan in 2017, this exhibition will present historical and contemporary works by approximately 100 artists—from the United States and Mexico as well as Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Syria, Turkey, UK, Vietnam, and more—whose work poses urgent questions around the experiences and perceptions of the global refugee crisis.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
National Mall/June 26-30; July 3-7

The animating theme of the 51st annual museum of living culture is the social power of music spotlighting artistic traditions in Benin and Brazil and more.

JULY 2019
By the Light of the Silvery Moon
National Gallery of Art/July 14, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020

A survey of some 50 works, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo mission and moon landing, considers the moon as the subject of photography from its origins to close-ups taken by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission
National Air and Space Museum/July 16-20, 2019

The largest museum in the world devoted to aviation and space travel will mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and moon walk with special programs TBA.

Festival of the Book

Walter E. Washington Convention Center/Early September 2019
The Library of Congress presents the 19th edition of its cavalcade of authors across genres: fiction, history, graphic novels, cookbooks, science fiction, children’s books, bios and more.

The REACH: Kennedy Center Expansion Project
Foggy Bottom/Sept. 7, 2019
The REACH, the first new space in the 47-year-old performing arts campus brings a $175-million Steve Holl-designed project adding 60,000-square-feet of classrooms, rehearsal and performance space in three pavilions. The addition to the southern side of the Center also adds a reflection pool, a projection screen and bridge over Rock Creek Parkway to the Potomac Riverfront.

Judy Chicago—The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction
National Museum of Women in the Arts/Sept. 19, 2019-Jan. 20, 2020

Feminist icon Judy Chicago presents her most recent work and continuing rally cry to challenge the status quo in almost 40 pieces of painted glass and porcelain and two bronzes.

Pat Steir
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden/Oct. 24, 2019-May 10, 2020

The largest site-specific exhibition to date by the acclaimed American abstractionist Pat Steir presents an expansive suite of her signature Waterfall series ringing the museum’s second-floor inner-circle gallery. The presentation will overlap with the artist’s 80th birthday.

LATE 2019
National Children’s Museum Opens Downtown
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center/TBD

After years of planning, an intentionally built, 33,000-square-foot play space emphasizing hands-on STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, art and math) opens blocks from the National Mall and White House. Admission will be $10.95; babies ages 12 months and younger are free.

Planet Word Museum

Franklin Square/TBD
A private museum dedicated to fostering a life-long love of literacy and storytelling is expected to open its doors inside the school where Alexander Graham Bell once ran a lab.

Eisenhower Memorial 
National Mall/TBD
Focusing on President Eisenhower’s dedication to public service, leadership, work ethic and devotion to preserving democracy, a memorial designed by Frank Gehry will be dedicated in 2020.

The National Native American Veterans Memorial
National Museum of American Indian/TBD
The memorial is expected to open on the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution’s DC museum in 2020. At present, the 413 registrations received from five continents have been reduced to five semi-finalists.

Hall of American Culture
National Museum of American History/Late 2020
The third and final reimaging of the museum’s West Wing presents America as a unique country where culture makers and their giant audiences engage one another, be it in a megachurch, Barnum’s circus tent or a cineplex.

2021 and Beyond
America by Air Reimagined
National Air and Space Museum/2021

“America by Air” will emerge from the museum’s multi-year transformation campaign refreshed with a new layout, improved graphics, interactive elements and new artifacts suspended from the ceiling. The ground floor exhibition will continue to trace the history of air transportation and explore how the federal government shaped the industry and how improvements in technology have revolutionized air travel.

WWI Memorial
Pershing Park/TBD

Despite a groundbreaking ceremony in 2017, an additional $30 million is required to construct the new national memorial to the men and women who fought in the war to end all wars.