The downtown arts district has nearly a dozen exhibit spaces (excluding museums), but many are in office lobbies or not clearly identifiable from the street. A guide:
Caos on F (923 F St. NW)
This second-floor gallery (whose name abbreviates “Coalition of Artists on the Other Shore”) shows a mix of fine and decorative art, highlighting people who have studios in the historic townhouses that were incorporated into the Carroll Square office building. Access: There’s an entrance from the street, but the door is usually locked. The gallery is open only by appointment and for special occasions such last September’s as the Arts on Foot festival.
Carroll Square Gallery (975 F St. NW)
This modest-size room at the rear of Carroll Square’s lobby shows work by local artists, usually in group shows that emphasize stylistic trends or historic movements. Access: Enter through the main doors; visitors are required to sign in.
Gallery at Flashpoint (916 G St. NW)
This noncommercial space shows experimental work, generally by young local artists and often site-specific. Access: The first-floor gallery, whose shows sometimes spill into the administrative offices upstairs, has a door on the street.
Gallery 555dc (555 12th St. NW)
This small interior gallery doesn’t have a lot of wall space, and shows a mix of paintings, ceramics and small sculptures. These are usually abstract, always by local artists and generally by women. Access: It’s just off the building’s atrium. Turn right when entering from 12th Street or use the door that leads into the building from Barnes & Noble’s cafe.
Goethe-Institut (812 Seventh St. NW)
After initially showing a wider range of work, this German cultural society’s fairly large second-floor space focuses exclusively on German photography. Access: There’s a door on the street, but it’s locked. Ring the bell, and a receptionist will buzz you in.
Heurich Gallery (505 Ninth St. NW)
This office-building lobby space offers two walls and a bit of a third for solo and duo shows of painting, drawing and sculpture. The artists are usually from the area. Access: Enter through the main doors whenever the building is open to the general public.
Edison Place Gallery (702 Eighth St. NW)
The largest of downtown’s office-building galleries, this multi-room space is programmed by various local groups, which leads to a wide range of themes and quality. Access: The gallery is open only 16 hours a week, but it has a direct street entrance.
This skinny but reasonably large lobby space usually features group shows of sculpture by area artists. Access: Available to the public whenever the lobby is open, the space can be entered from either Pennsylvania Avenue or 12th Street.
This small lobby space has shown work selected by the Washington Sculptors Group. Access: Entering from 13th Street leads directly to the display area.