One of the most anticipated exhibitions next year is “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” at the Hirshhorn. (Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama)

The museum exhibitions, classical music concerts and dance and theater performances that you absolutely shouldn’t miss in 2017.


Joshua Bell at the Kennedy Center, Feb. 8-12

Perhaps America’s most popular concert violinist, Bell comes to Washington for a solo recital, a stint conducting the National Symphony Orchestra and an evening with the Gourmet Symphony, which pairs food and live music. A family concert with the NSO features a work based on a children’s book about Bell’s experience playing incognito in the D.C. Metro and failing to be recognized — an experience staged for a Post article that won a Pulitzer Prize. 2700 F St. NW.

— Anne Midgette

Shift: A Festival of American Orchestras at the Kennedy Center , March 27-April 2

The Kennedy Center and Washington Performing Arts are teaming up to present a festival designed to highlight not only concert performances, but also a range of offstage activities of four orchestras from across the country. This inaugural season will include the Boulder Philharmonic leading guided nature hikes, the Atlanta Symphony holding choral workshops and the North Carolina Symphony focusing on the meaning of “Americana.”

Anne Midgette

From the Canyons to the Stars at DAR Constitution Hall, May 12

A free concert at Constitution Hall brings to the District a multimedia co-production that pairs Olivier Messiaen’s evocative large-scale chamber work with photographs by Deborah O’Grady, illustrating the Western landscapes to which the composer was reacting. David Robertson conducts a production that has drawn positive reaction in other cities. 1776 D St. NW.

— Anne Midgette

National Symphony Orchestra: John F. Kennedy Centennial Celebration with Yo-Yo Ma at the Kennedy Center, May 24

Celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs with the National Symphony Orchestra in the culminating concert of the John F. Kennedy Centennial. The year-long initiative marking the May 29 centennial of his birth focused on Kennedy’s core ideals, including courage, freedom, justice, service and gratitude. The concert features a new commission from composer-in-residence Mason Bates.

— Peggy McGlone


“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Feb. 23-May 14

The large Yayoi Kusama show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the first major exhibition in North America in decades devoted to the genre-defying Japanese artist. Kusama’s colorful, psychedelic and immersive work has a passionate international following and is likely to attract an enthusiastic audience well beyond the borders of the District. Seventh Street SW and Independence Avenue.

— Philip Kennicott

“Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism” at the National Gallery of Art, April 9-July 9

The National Gallery of Art surveys the work of Frédéric Bazille, an early and influential French impressionist whose work is not nearly as well-known as that of his more famous contemporaries, Monet and Renoir. Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW.

— Philip Kennicott

Opening of the Museum of the Bible, Nov. 17

In November, the Museum of the Bible will open in a $500 million, 430,000-square-foot space two blocks south of the Mall, on D Street between Third and Fourth streets SW. Created by Steve Green of the Hobby Lobby craft empire, the museum has a collection of 40,000 artifacts and rare books that will be featured in opening exhibitions and programs focused on the Bible’s narrative, its history and its influence. The facility also includes a library and research center, a performance space and a restaurant. 409 Third St. SW.

— Peggy McGlone


Lillian Hellman Festival at Arena Stage

Technically this began in September when Arena Stage revived Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes,” but it really swings into gear in January. The main event will be Hellman’s take-a-stand-on-the-war drama, “Watch on the Rhine,” starting Feb. 3 with four-time Academy Award nominee Marsha Mason. The festival includes a series of play readings (“The Children’s Hour,” “Toys in the Attic,” “Another Part of the Forest”), a screening of the Jane Fonda-Vanessa Redgrave film “Julia” and panels examining Hellman’s creative legacy and controversial life. 1101 Sixth St. SW. — Nelson Pressley

“Fun Home” at the National Theatre, April 18-May 13

The acclaimed musical is about a girl coming to terms with her sexuality and her difficult father, based on the memoir by graphic novelist Alison Bechdel (of the Bechdel test). Last year, composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist-librettist Lisa Kron made history as the first female songwriting team to win a Tony Award. 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

Nelson Pressley

“In the Heights” at GALA Hispanic Theatre, April 21-May 21

Call this a pregame for 2018’s “Hamilton” at the Kennedy Center, but also call it long overdue. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical won a Tony Award in 2008; the upcoming production at GALA Hispanic Theatre will not only be the show’s D.C. premiere, but also the American premiere of the Spanish-language version. 3333 14th St. NW.

— Nelson Pressley

Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Little Humpbacked Horse” comes to the Kennedy Center in January. (N. Razina)


Mariinsky Ballet: Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Little Humpbacked Horse” at Kennedy Center, Jan. 31-Feb. 5

The celebrated Russian company offers a rare event: a fully Russian production, from theme to execution. The classic Russian fairy tale on which this ballet is based tells of a magical horse that helps a peasant’s son gain the czar’s favor and marry a princess. Ratmansky, the Russian choreographer whose many gifts include a great knack for telling a story, updates the original 1864 ballet and turns it into a comedy. Loads of bright, lively characters — including firebirds, sea people and half a dozen wet nurses (ah, the life of a czar!) — are swept into action.

— Sarah L. Kaufman

Ballet Across America at Kennedy Center, April 17-23

This popular week-long showcase gets a new twist: celebrity curators. Misty Copeland has selected the first program, spotlighting four troupes that emphasize diverse casting, including Ballet Memphis and the Black Iris Project. New York City Ballet resident choreographer Justin Peck curates the second, choosing groups that feature favorite dance makers, such as L.A. Dance Project’s Benjamin Millepied and Abraham.In.Motion’s Kyle Abraham. — Sarah L. Kaufman

Martha Graham Dance Company at George Mason University, April 28

This company — the oldest modern-dance troupe in the country — features some of the most skilled and powerful dancers you can ever hope to see. On the program: the second act of Graham’s “Clytemnestra,” a taut, feminist view of the backstory to the Greek queen’s murder of her husband. Also on the bill is the lighter side of Graham, with her upbeat last work, “Maple Leaf Rag,” plus two Center for the Arts premieres. 4373 Mason Pond Dr., Fairfax.

— Sarah L. Kaufman

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