You’re back – with a splash!

We crossed our fingers when the Renwick Gallery closed two years ago for renovations. Would the Renwick reopen with not much to show for its closing but freshly painted walls and some new exhibits?

A week after it reopened we went to check it out for ourselves.

The Renwick, one of our favorite (free!) museums in Washington, DC, is hidden in plain sight.

The Renwick, one of our favorite (free!) museums in Washington, DC, is hidden in plain sight.

Despite being a Smithsonian museum dedicated to craft and decorative arts, its location is not on the National Mall with most of the other Smithsonian Museums, but rather is close to the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. We guessed most folks passing by mistook the old, staid building for a government office. We had always loved visiting the old museum, despite a few tired old galleries inside.

DSC04217

From the moment we entered, the “wow” factor took over.

Untitled, by Tara Donovan, 2014; styrene index cards, wood, metal, paint, glue

Untitled, by Tara Donovan, 2014; styrene index cards, wood, metal, paint, glue

Room-sized installations of simple, common materials: first, stacked index cards and the next, taut colored threads.

Plexus A1, by Gabriel Dawe, 2015; wood, thread, hooks, steel

Plexus A1, by Gabriel Dawe, 2015; wood, thread, hooks, steel

Two pieces in adjoining rooms used amber glass in different ways. The first was a lovely chandelier, well-placed over a classic statue.

Seafoam and Amber Tipped Chandelier, by Dale Chihuly, 1994, glass and silver leaf

Seafoam and Amber Tipped Chandelier, by Dale Chihuly, 1994, glass and silver leaf

The second was a clever glass marble map of the Chesapeake Bay on the floor, with tributaries traveling up the walls.

Folding the Chesapeake”, by Maya Lin, 2015, marbles and adhesive

Folding the Chesapeake”, by Maya Lin, 2015, marbles and adhesive

One vibrantly painted exhibit room appeared to be intricately wallpapered – until we realized the decoration was many real insects, mounted in an array of patterns.

In the Midnight Garden”, by Jennifer Angus; 2015; cochineal, insects, mixed media

In the Midnight Garden”, by Jennifer Angus; 2015; cochineal, insects, mixed media

What do we think of the changes thus far to the Renwick? The museum has taken off in an inspired, new direction – appropriate for the 21st century. Brilliant!

More to come in the next post…

 

November 2015

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in US - Washington, DC and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to You’re back – with a splash!

  1. Beachbums1 says:

    Thanks for this post. Didn’t realize the Renwick Gallery was open again. Will definitely check it soon.

  2. Two years off to remodel – it seems almost indulgent, in a very good way.

  3. Jeannie Claypoole says:

    Wow is right! Sorry we missed that when we were recently in D.C. Next time……

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