An intern’s guide to Washington: Best art exhibitions

With so much free and cheap art in the Washington area, picking what to see can prove overwhelming. So here are a few standout shows you won't want to miss.


HANDOUT IMAGE: Fermata installation, Terrace Gallery. Installation view of “Fermata.” at Artisphere. CREDIT: “Artisphere”

'American Cool' at the National Portrait Gallery

What do Miles Davis, Jean-Michel Basquiat, James Dean and Frank Sinatra have in common? In their own way, each epitomized what many of us consider to be cool. The National Portrait Gallery's "American Cool" exhibit features those icons' portraits alongside many other influential figures in American culture and history. Open through Sept. 7. Free.

'Fermata' at Artisphere

This is one to experience with your ears. "Fermata" is dedicated to the art of sound and features more than 20 artists, each featured on a wall of speakers designed by sound artist John Henry Blatter. The show unfolds in three parts and includes the works of about 10 artists at a time. Open through Aug. 10. Free.

'Made in the U.S.A' at the Phillips Collection

A celebration of American artistry, this exhibit provides a glimpse into the museum's expansive collection of American art, with selections from more than 100 artists working between 1850 and 1970. Open through Aug. 31. Student admission is $10.

'Visions From the Forests: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone' at the National Museum of African Art

The masks, body ornaments and other artistic pieces featured in this exhibition were collected by William Siegmann, a former curator of African art for the Brooklyn Museum. Open through Aug. 17. Free.

'Total Art: Contemporary Video' at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

"Total Art" pays homage to pioneers of 1960s and '70s video art, including Dara Birnbaum, Alex Prager and Mariko Mori. Student admission is $8; the first Sunday of each month is free.

Macy L. Freeman is an editorial aide for the Weekend/Going Out Guide section at The Washington Post.
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