Gabriel Dawe, Plexus 19, 2012, thread, wood and hooks, at Villa Olma, Como, Italy. (Courtesy Gabriel Dawe and Smithsonian Institution)

This fall, area museums are offering plenty of offbeat exhibitions — from Androids to airport towers to Asian socialist art. The highlight of the season will surely be the reopening of the Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s decorative art center that has been shuttered for renovations. But it’s just one of several noteworthy events coming up.

The historic Renwick reopens Nov. 13 with “Wonder,” an exhibition of site-specific works by nine contemporary artists. Jennifer Angus, Chakaia Booker, Patrick Dougherty, Gabriel Dawe, Leo Villareal and four others have been commissioned to create works for each gallery.


Our model interprets Jennifer Angus’s spiraling geometric designs made with insects. Angus’s art will be among the unusual and large-scale works in “Wonder” when the Renwick Gallery reopens. On the model: Sequin short dress by Alexandre Vauthier (Just One Eye-Los Angeles) and Lady Bug pin by Kenneth Jay Lane (Kenneth Jay Lane). (Wardrobe styling: Mario Wilson for STYLEOBJECTIVE at Ken Barboza NYC; Fashion assistant: Kee Hughes; Fashion intern: Robert Florence; Makeup: Shauné Hayes; Hair: Lisa Anderson; Models: The Artist Agency) (Roger Erickson/For The Washington Post)

Among the unusual and large-scale works are Angus’s spiraling geometric designs made with insects and Dougherty’s structures made from saplings. The Renwick is across the street from the White House and the first building in the United States erected specifically to showcase art. With a two-year, $30 million renovation completed, the Renwick will brighten the District’s rich museum landscape.

Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (at 17th Street). Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

‘Above and Beyond’

After checking out the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 Command Module and the rest of the crowd favorites in the National Air and Space Museum, visitors won’t want to miss two smaller but fascinating exhibitions. Open now through Jan. 3, “Above and Beyond” explores the principles of aerodynamics and the forces of flight through interactive games and immersive media presentations. With a focus on innovation and technology, the exhibit provides opportunities to learn about spaceflight and discover future possibilities. Opening Nov. 11, “Art of the Airport Tower” showcases the graphic beauty of airport structures through 50 fine-art photographs by Smithsonian photographer Carolyn Russo. The photographs depict historic towers and those located in the world’s busiest airports. After a year on view in the District, the show will tour the country for at least two years.

National Air and Space Museum, Independence Avenue and Sixth Street SW. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

‘Alien Worlds and Androids’

The Science Museum of Virginia searches for alien life in “Alien Worlds and Androids,” opening Oct. 10. The exhibit focuses on the search for life in the universe and the technological advances in robotics that can give humans super strength. C-3PO from “Star Wars” and a T-800 from “The Terminator” will be featured alongside displays about artificial intelligence, robots and the search for life in the solar system.

Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. Open Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


V. Popov, "Akhun-babayev with Kallinin," Soviet Union, Uzbek SSR. (Courtesy GW's Central Asia Program)

‘Old Patterns, New Order: Socialist Realism in Central Asia’

Firmly established in its new digs at George Washington University, the Textile Museum opens “Old Patterns, New Order: Socialist Realism in Central Asia” on Oct. 10. Working with the university’s Central Asia program, the exhibition pairs 20th-century paintings from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and other Central Asian areas with examples of textiles depicted on the canvas. The pairings offer new perspectives on the art movement that existed under Soviet rule.

George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum, 701 21st St. NW. Open Monday, Wednesday-Friday 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and university holidays.

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