Events

The Best DC Area Art Experiences You Can Enjoy From Home

Watching a live play or concert can instantly transport viewers into another world, far removed from the stressors of day-to-day life. We all need that transformative power more than ever as we face isolation in our homes during a global pandemic. And, thankfully, DC is a cultural hub.

While music and concert halls, museums and theaters have closed their physical doors, many are streaming live content, offering virtual 360 tours, hosting classes, and virtual events with artists. We’ve rounded up some of the arts organizations in DC and Maryland that continue to let you experience their offerings in your living room.

Explore dino skeletons with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Get up close to the elephants and dinosaurs in the virtual tours from the Museum of Natural History, which let users zoom in close enough to read to the exhibit descriptions. The museum also hosts video webinars during which scientists answer pressing questions about our natural world, from how pandemics take hold to how fossils are discovered.

Learn about fashion from the National Museum of African American History & Culture

Explore the contributions of black fashion designers in a virtual exhibit in the Google Arts & Culture app titled “A Look at the Black Fashion Museum Collection and Designer Peter Davy.” Containing nearly 1,000 items, some of the highlights of the online collection include a dress sewn by Rosa Parks and a military uniform work by Brigadier General Hazel Johnson-Brown, the first African American to serve as chief of the Army Nurse Corps.

Pretend you’re a secret agent with the International Spy Museum

Budding secret agents can still use the museum’s resources to build their skills even while the physical museum is closed. Test your spying skills in a virtual workshop or join a virtual happy hour with The Americans actor Costa Ronin. Fans can also browse their online spy tool collection, which includes cameras hidden in everything from a watch to a fountain pen.

Time travel to the 18th century with George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Take a virtual 360-tour of the 11,028-square-foot estate and surrounding property, which lets you zoom in on the descriptions of the rooms, furniture, and art. Educational live streams from the estate are held weekdays at noon on its Facebook and YouTube pages, including a virtual performance on a reproduction harpsichord.

Watch a one-person play about compassion with Baltimore Center Stage

Center Stage canceled live performances of its newest play, Where We Stand. But the show, which tells the story of a kind stranger who restores compassion to a town, lives on virtually. Guests can purchase a ticket for a virtual performance, which lets you view it for two weeks. The theater is asking that patrons pay what they can, though the minimum is $5 per person.

Take in a Beyonce performance with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The legendary multipurpose arts space features videos from every genre on its website. Watch clips and full-length performances of previous jazz and hip-hop concerts, ballet and contemporary dance, and theater. Notable clips from the Kennedy Center Honors include performances from Beyoncé, the Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars and Jennifer Hudson.

Take art lessons with The Walters Art Museum

The Baltimore museum has been cataloging its massive collection, spanning from the antiquities to modern-day, for the last decade. Its latest virtual effort presents art lessons for school students and weekly art tutorials on its website and Facebook page. Download its 1 West app on the Apple App Store or Google Play to take a virtual tour of its 19th-century mansion, the Hackerman House.

Appreciate art by women from the Baltimore Museum of Art

The BMA made a commitment to showcasing female artists exclusively in 2020 and continues the journey virtually after the pandemic shuts its doors to visitors. Art lovers can take virtual gallery walks to discover female-identifying artists on the BMA’s Facebook page. The museum’s newsletter, BMA Stories, features conversations with artists and articles on the museum’s collections. Subscribe to the YouTube channel to watch interviews with artists.

Learn to be a ballerina with The Washington Ballet

Dancers who want to fine-tune their skills can stream one of the classes taught by faculty members of the Washington School of Ballet. Students receive real-time feedback during the 90-minute lessons, held via Zoom. The ballet offers both beginners and advanced classes. The classes are $13 each and there’s one weekly pay-what-you-can performance. On-demand classes cost $8.

Stream indie or foreign films with Parkway Theatre

The 105-year-old Baltimore movie theater was forced to shut its doors last month, three years after an $18.2 million restoration. But film buffs can still support the cultural nonprofit by streaming its independent, foreign, classic and non-fiction films from home. A British comedy, a Brazilian sci-fi and a documentary on gerrymandering are among the options. Most movies cost $12 to rent.

Drink and draw at home with Muse Paintbar

Sip and paint studios have proliferated in recent years and some, like Muse Paintbar, are allowing artists to unleash their creativity, even if their retail spots close. Muse, which has a location in Fairfax, is offering online instruction for adults and kids. Choose from 11 paintings, including a cupcake and Venetian homes. Artists can purchase a video with instructions, a supply kit with paintbrushes and canvases, or both. Classes range from $20-$60.

Up your Netflix game with the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center

The Silver Spring-based AFI is showing 13 movies in its virtual screening room. They include the newly restored Brazilian classic comedy Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, Romanian crime drama The Whistlers, and mushroom documentary Fantastic Fungi. Most movies cost $12 to rent.

Take a virtual writing or poetry class with Politics and Prose

The independent bookstore has always been a haven for literary lovers and continues its mission by offering virtual writing and poetry classes taught by esteemed authors. Discover the poetry of Seamus Heaney or discuss dystopian fiction. The shop is also hosting live online talks with authors via the Crowdcast platform. Price classes vary, but author events are free.

Take in a jazz or hip-hop concert with The Music Center at Strathmore

Strathmore’s Facebook page brings the Bethesda music and arts hall into your home. Join the Saturday morning family jam sessions or the Wednesday evening concerts that include folk, hip-hop, and jazz music. Soon, fans will be able to view its art galleries online as well, according to the website. 

Watch a live bluegrass festival with WTMD

The public radio station at Towson University is hosting live concerts on its Facebook and Instagram pages to lift our spirits during the quarantine. The events include a six-hour concert hosted by Charm City Bluegrass April 26.

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Julekha Dash is a Maryland writer who covers food, travel, and design with bylines in USA Today, American Way, Architectural Digest, Eater, Fodor's, and others. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram and check out her Contently portfolio.