(Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

We asked, you answered. Here’s what readers voted as the best of the arts in the D.C. area.

Best non-Smithsonian museum

National Gallery of Art
D.C.’s art museum par excellence comprises two landmark buildings and an eclectic sculpture garden featuring works by Roy Lichtenstein, Louise Bourgeois, Claes Oldenburg and others. The neoclassical West Building, with its elegant rotunda flanked by exhibition halls, holds an exceptional collection of 13th- to 19th-century European and American art. The star of the museum these days, though, is the modern and contemporary East Building, which recently reopened after a three-year renovation. Ascend the towers, taking in the eye-catching Alexander Calder room, abstract expressionist galleries and temporary exhibits. At the top, you’ll find a new roof terrace with cutting-edge sculptures and selfie-worthy views of the Mall and U.S. Capitol. – Vanessa H. Larson (Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW)
2nd: Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
3rd: Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW

Best underrated tourist attraction

United States Botanic Garden
No matter the weather, you can find some beautiful flora at the U.S. Botanic Garden, which is open year-round. The centerpiece is the conservatory, a nearly 29,000-square-foot greenhouse divided into sections featuring diverse environments and themes, including a tropical rainforest, desert climates, gorgeous orchids, medicinal plants and the recently opened Mediterranean room. The adjacent 3-acre National Garden — which celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall — beckons with its landscaped pathways, butterfly garden and rose garden. Even more greenery will be on view soon: Nearby Bartholdi Park is set to reopen later this year after a complete renovation focusing on sustainability and accessibility. — V.H.L. (100 Maryland Ave. SW)
2nd: United States National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE
3rd: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Eighth and F streets NW

Best college arts programs

Catholic University
We have the Catholic University of America to thank for the film and TV scenes stolen by Susan Sarandon, John Slattery and Jon Voight, all of whom trained at its 79-year-old drama program. A highlight of the current theater season at this religious institution’s Hartke Theatre is a traditional story of Christ’s birth — just kidding: It’s “Preggers, or Parenthood for Virgins,” a new work from an MFA playwriting candidate that imagines how Mary and Joseph prepared to raise a son. Meanwhile, over at the Department of Art, the on-campus Salve Regina Gallery is hosting “Everything Is Connected — An Environmental Message” from local artist Kay Jackson through Nov. 17. — Lori McCue
2nd: University of Maryland
3rd: American University

Best small gallery

Touchstone Gallery
It’s easy to pass by Touchstone, tucked away on busy New York Avenue across from CityCenterDC beneath a nondescript green awning. Pop in and check out the installations at this cozy gallery owned by artists. Should one of the works by local creators catch your eye, you could even take it home: Entry-level collectors can pick up some art pieces for under $200. This year, the museum’s 40th, featured the edgy and critically acclaimed exhibit “Art as Politics,” which depicted our two presidential candidates. Coming soon: “The Art of Manipulation,” where photographers join painters and sculptors to manipulate images of the world they photograph. — Erin Bylander (901 New York Ave. NW)
2nd: Foundry Gallery, 2118 Eighth St. NW
3rd: Long View Gallery, 1234 Ninth St. NW


(John Shore)

Best music venue

9:30 Club
Things have changed rapidly near the 9:30 Club ó an apartment building with a movie theater and a ramen shop recently opened next door ó but the venue remains the same. In January, the venue celebrated its 35th anniversary by releasing a retrospective book and turning the club into a pop-up museum, complete with exhibits and a re-creation of the old F Street 9:30 Club. These days, the club isnít just one of the best places to see up-and-coming and established acts, itís one of the only venues in the world with its own TV show. ìLive at 9:30î debuted earlier this year on PBS and online. Each episode features a diverse mix of performances from shows at the club (a recent episode featured X Ambassadors, The English Beat, Jess Glynne and Neon Indian), comedy bits and interviews. — Rudi Greenberg (815 V St. NW)
2nd: The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave, Alexandria
3rd: U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW


(Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

Best multi-purpose performance space

Kennedy Center
Yes, “Hamilton” is coming in 2018, but that’s not what makes the Kennedy Center the centerpiece of D.C. arts. No place else can house this much dance, theater, opera, and orchestral and choral music under one roof. Add in cultural and artistic festivals and an outstanding lineup of children’s theater and you’ve got an unmatched range of experiences. And the Kennedy Center is always up for something new, like the debut this year of its District Comedy Festival, which showcased up-and-coming comedians and celebrated legends like Joan Rivers with four days of laughs. Who needs “Hamilton”?! (Though if you happen to get an extra ticket …) — Kristen Page-Kirby (2700 F St. NW)
2nd: Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna
3rd: Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md.

Best small theater

Constellation Theatre Company
“The intimacy of our space is a huge part of our success,” says Allison Arkell Stockman, the founding artistic director of Constellation Theatre. “We tell huge, epic stories in a small space, and we feature a lot of highly visual design and passionate, committed acting you don’t often see in a 100-seat theater.” “Urinetown,” Constellation’s most recent production at the Source Theatre, fit 15 cast members and five musicians onto the tiny stage, giving the audience an immediacy you won’t find in a larger space. “People are right up close and personal,” Stockman says. “There is no place to hide.” — K.P.K. (Source Theatre, 1835 14th St. NW)
2nd: GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW
3rd: Theater Alliance, 2020 Shannon Place SE

Best place to see comedy

DC Improv
Nearly every weekend, D.C.’s oldest comedy club offers the classic comedy club experience: a national headliner doing two shows a night against a brick wall in the main showroom, with a featured act and a local emcee. With its low ceilings, the main room remains the prime place in D.C. to see established and emerging comics. But the Improv, which opened in 1992, has been innovating of late, especially in its cozy lounge space. On any night, you might be able catch one of the club’s stand-up tournaments, a podcast taping, open-mic improv or a murder mystery show. — R.G. (1140 Connecticut Ave. NW)
2nd: Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington
3rd: The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave. NW

Best movie theater experience

Landmark E Street Cinema
Those accustomed to stadium seating and reclining chairs might refer to this basement theater in the heart of the city as “small.” Those who love the space prefer “cozy” or “intimate.” Though E Street lacks some posh comforts, this perennial favorite still has snacks that go far beyond popcorn (try finding mini crabcakes at the mall), a full bar and arguably the best slate of first-run independent films, as well as revivals and midnight showings of camp classics like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” — K.P.K. (555 11th St. NW)
2nd: Angelika Film Center, 2911 District Ave., Fairfax
3rd: Atlantic Plumbing Cinema, 807 V St. NW


(Bing Thom Architects)

Best large theater

Arena Stage
“Arena, under [artistic director] Molly Smith, has evolved to be one of the top three regional theaters in the country,” says actress Kathleen Turner, who is currently appearing there in “The Year of Magical Thinking.” Founded in 1950, Arena is a hub for both new works and classics of American theater. Its three theaters provide wildly different experiences: The Fichandler Stage, a four-sided auditorium with 680 seats, typically handles the larger productions; the 514-seat Kreeger is a more traditional setting; and the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, with only 200 seats, offers rare intimacy. This season’s slate includes “A Raisin in the Sun,” an innovative production of “Moby Dick” and two world premieres: “Roe,” about the lawyer and the plaintiff behind Roe v. Wade, and “Intelligence,” about the unmasking of CIA agent Valerie Plame. — K.P.K. (1101 Sixth St. SW)
2nd: Shakespeare Theatre Company, 610 F St. NW and 450 Seventh St. NW
3rd: Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington

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