The modish Capitol Skyline Hotel hosts the new (e)merge art fair, which kicks off Thursday and continues through Sunday. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Yesterday, nine months after the fair was announced, the Skyline was finally buzzing with local and international artists putting the last touches on their work and staff from galleries setting up their “booths” in the hotel rooms. Check out some early photos of the fair set-up and some of Conner, Smith and Allen’s tips for navigating D.C.’s big new fair. And see preview photos of the But Is It Art? fair, which also opens today.

The kickoff party and concert tonight features members of Fugazi and Thievery Corporation. Saturday’s schedule includes performance art, a panel discussion and a nearby block party. The fair runs through Sunday, and it’s a few blocks from the Navy Yard Metro station.

In the garage, artists finish site-specific work for Art Whino gallery's space. The warehouse-esque environs of the garage will complement the edgier fare, including student work from Baltimore’s MICA and the Corcoran College of Art and Design. (Photos by Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)

“When you arrive at the (e)merge fair, grab a fair guide (located in the Art Newspaper Daily) and plot out your day,” says Allen. “If your time is limited, be systematic -- start on Floor 3 and move through the fair to the lower levels … you want to see everything.”

A piece by Forest Allread is among the works installed in the garage; Allread was a prizewinner at Conner Contemporary’s annual Academy student show. His prize was exhibition space at (e)merge.

“Take photos of interesting artworks with your phone or camera… but be polite and ask first,” Conner suggests.

Artist Katherine Mann installs her painting "Weft" in a room on the main floor at the Capitol Skyline Hotel.

Ask questions,” says Smith, “The galleries and artists are there to talk to you about the art.”

Brussels-based Nomad Gallery is showing a room of work by Congolese-born artist Aime Mpane. Mpane’s work, which mines the experiences of the residents of war-torn Congo, was at the Museum of African Art last year. Nomad is among the 40-plus galleries that will show at the fair, but one of a handful of international offerings.

 “Take notes the traditional way or with your smartphone,” adds Allen. “After viewing hundreds of works of art, it can be difficult to remember what you saw and where you saw it.”

Even resting your feet at the Skyline’s Lapidus restaurant will feel like an artful experience. Matias Cuevas, a Washington-based artist hailing from Argentina, is transforming the restaurant.

“The great thing about art is that it is totally subjective.  Be confident,”says Smith. “The art that ‘speaks to you’ is what matters most.  There is no right or wrong decision.”