While many view the nation’s capital as the center of world politics, only a few recognize it as a cultural hub for musicians and artisans from across the country. Within minutes of the White House, in Montgomeryt County, Maryland, there are dozens of museums and galleries hosting art shows and musical performances on a regular basis. Here are some of the local favorites.
Strathmore – Music Center & Mansion
Just outside the Capital Beltway, Strathmore has been a beacon for the visual and performing arts since 1981. The Music Center at Strathmore is a 1,976 seat theater that regularly hosts favorites like the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This year’s playbill includes Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LaBelle, and Carol Burnett, just to name a few. The Mansion at Strathmore hosts smaller, more intimate venues and private collections. Walk the elaborate Sculpture Gardens, enjoy tea in Strathmore’s Tea Room, or catch a folk music festival on the front lawn.
Arts Barn in Gaithersburg
Once home to the famous Tschiffely family horses, the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg is a repurposed 99-seat theater with regular performances and rotating art exhibits. The Artist-In-Residence studios regularly house artists focused on their craft and community outreach. The Arts Barn also offers classes for children and adults eager to express themselves in a variety of mediums.
Glen Echo Park
Glen Echo Park started in 1891 as the National Chautauqua Assembly for the arts, sciences, language, and literature. In 1971, the National Park Service joined with artists from across the nation to develop an arts program that continues today under the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, Inc. In addition to the vintage carousel and bumper cars, the park holds weekly dances in the Spanish Ballroom – swing, salsa, classical, Cajun, balboa, and even the blues! Students from all over the country come to the park for classes in the visual and performing arts. Many of their pieces go on display at one of the three galleries on campus. There is never a shortage of creativity at Glen Echo Park.
AMP by Strathmore
AMP is powered by Strathmore, one of the leaders of the visual and performing arts and is the “nexus of live entertainment” in the Pike District. The menus change seasonally, and the music changes nightly. From the beginning of AMP, the venue was designed to reflex diverse community where it’s located. This means a variety of musical genres such as rock, jazz, folk, and rhythm and blues are presented throughout a typical week.
Black Rock Center for the Arts
In the early 1990s, citizens of Germantown, Maryland, began to wonder why there wasn’t an arts center in their community. Within a year, the BlackRock Center for the Arts was founded, originally named the Germantown Cultural Arts Center. Now, the BlackRock Center for the Arts leads the community with the “highest level of quality performances, free gallery exhibitions, and art education classes.”
The Olney Theatre is located just north of Washington, D.C., and offers a broad array of productions. Olney Theatre operates under the Actors’ Equity Association Council of Stock Theaters (COST) contract. It is one of only 3 theatres to do so in the nation. Currently, Olney Theatre is featuring 10 different plays this season, including Dial ‘M’ For Murder, Evita, and Guys and Dolls.
AFI Silver Theatre & Cultural Center
The AFI Silver Theatre is anchored in the restored 1938 Silver Theatre creating a classic feel to the films and movies shown within its walls. The AFI is a national institute that provides “leadership in screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television, and digital media.” Showing a large variety of movies, the AFI examines the significance of films, while showing filmmaker interviews, discussions, and other events, making the films a true centerpiece.
Art of Fire Contemporary Glass Studio
For a more hands-on experience, visit the Art of Fire Contemporary Glass Studio. With a gallery, hot shop, and a teaching space, Foster Holcombe and Theda Hansen both work and sell their artwork daily. Call ahead to make your own ornament or for a more intimate glass blowing class.