The Washington Post

Martin Luther King Day: Free admission at Corcoran Gallery

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s acrylic and oil "Bird On Money."

Corcoran Gallery of Art is offering up a reminder of the day’s importance. It’s opening its doors free of charge on Martin Luther King Day to visit its exhibitions, including the thought-provoking “30 Americans” show, featuring works by 31 African American artists.

Though the artists are all African American, the title itself — simply using the term “Americans” — offers up a tribute to King: acknowledging the legacy of a man who worked to break through the misconceptions held by others due to his skin color.

Post art critic Phil Kennicott discussed the viewpoints of the younger artists in the show, writing in September that they “... are analyzing, enacting and playing games with ideas about race they have found in the world, rather than attempting to live out through art some dubious, idealized notion of race.”

The exhibit includes work from Jean-Michel Basquiat, Carrie Mae Weems and Kehinde Wiley, and will close Feb. 12.

Sarah Newman, curator of the exhibit, encourages patrons to check out the work of Kara Walker, Nick Cave and her personal favorite, Mark Bradford’s “Whore in the Church House.”

Mark Bradford’s “Whore in the Church House” (Courtesy of the Rubell Family Collection, Miami)

Overall, Newman feels that the exhibit shows people that contemporary art is relevant to everyday life.

“A lot of the works are intentionally provocative or challenging,” Newman said. “The work in the show encourages you to engage with it.”

While you are there, don’t forget to walk through the exhibits “Hank Willis Thomas: Strange Fruit” and “Gordon Parks: Photographs from the Collection,” which are both closing Monday. Visitors on Jan. 16 will be given a bonus two-for-one voucher for themselves and a guest, to be redeemed by the closing date of the “30 Americans” exhibit.

If you can’t make it on Monday, the museum will offer a special MLK Brunch on Sunday by Chef Todd Gray of Todd Gray’s Muse. The sextet Mutual Agreement will perform.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is at 500 17th St. NW. Brunch is $25 for adults and $12 for children 12 and under. Guests will get half-off admission to the museum if they purchase brunch. Reservations can be made by calling 202-639-1786. For more information, visit

Correction: An earlier version of this post implied the brunch was on Monday. It will be on Sunday.


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