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6 unexpected places for finding artworks in Washington, D.C.

From a colorful, quirky Barbie display to a repurposed Waterfront church

Blind Whino
Blind Whino.
Photo via Forsaken Fotos

Certainly, there are plenty of underrated museums in Washington, D.C. worth checking out, each one a ways away from the National Mall and packed to the brim with history and cool artifacts. But there other secret spaces art lovers in particular should head to for something a little off the beaten path.

Below, Curbed DC has listed six no-cost sites worth a look, from the District’s seat of power to a weekly public market.

Have any other suggestions worth adding to the list? Let Curbed DC know in the comments.

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center

For free, art lovers can get curator-led public art tours of the Convention Center’s $4 million art collection. According to the Events DC website, this art collection is the largest in any convention center and the largest public art collection in the District outside of a museum with more than 130 works of art.

For a a look at all of the artworks inside, check out this map, which details every painting, sculpture, and photograph.

Blind Whino

A post shared by Blind Whino (@blindwhino) on

Yes, that's a church. Yes, it's covered from head to toe in vibrant colors. Can you go inside? Of course. Blind Whino is a non-profit arts club and event space that features exhibits, events, live performances, and artist workshops.

While not located by the National Mall, it's still one of the best museums in Washington, D.C. with some of the coolest art around.

The Barbie Pond on Avenue Q

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As one of D.C.’s best kept secrets, it’s no surprise that many in the nation’s capital haven’t heard of The Barbie Pond on Avenue Q. At first, it might sound rather peculiar. I mean, what’s the big deal? It’s just Barbies. But it’s much more than that.

Located in front of a private residence, this is for sure one of the city’s best public art displays. Every few months, the theme changes for the display. One month, it might reflect a holiday, the next maybe a local event. Always, the display is a quirky, cute surprise with something to offer for everyone.

House of Sweden

Photo via Ronald Woan

By the Georgetown Waterfront, D.C. residents and visitors can find one of the city’s most beautiful embassies, known as House of Sweden. This embassy offers a space for the arts, culture, and literature found in Sweden as well as a range of live performances.

If that’s not enough, the building, itself, is a perfect example of Scandinavian architecture, designed by Gert Wingårdh and Tomas Hansen.

Eastern Market

Photo via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/zachstern/5103580792/in/photolist-8LZbLh-yUjBky-dCHiNg-iVCrXG-d1H8Nb-cnAgAA-d9Jqhg-dCNKYf-vZ4VZw-aA6qg4-iC18Rz-kR43aU-fVUbAk-gqVicm-zQ7puH-dmnH3j-qpKXeF-7RrM5U-d8pfVq-8QmcuU-nVy4Hu-fVU3r4-fVUjjL-fVUJRv-cszqEG-fVU4MR-fVUGkm-fVUgxy-fVU7sb-fVUhnE-fVU8rL-fVUei4-fVUaHj-fVUqvd-fVUNGB-fVUqJZ-fVUg6H-fVUrfm-fVUdxh-fVUAtE-fVUx45-fVUXC2-fVU73n-fVU1ED-fVUcsw-dCHm1Z-csA9xs-6gR5NQ-bEP3zN-f193u6">Zach Stern</a> Photo via Zach Stern

Known as the city’s premier food and arts market, Eastern Market has so much to offer. From local, farm-fresh produce to handmade artworks, this Capitol Hill destination has been in continuous operation since 1873.

Every weekend, local artists and crafters set up shop outside the market building with their paintings, sculptures, photographs, and jewelry. To see the full list of vendors, go to the Eastern Market website here.

The John A. Wilson Building

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Awiseman

The Wilson Building houses not only the offices of the city’s Council and Mayor, but also a rather prominent art collection. This site hosts the largest display of artworks from the Art Bank, which is a collection of over 2,700 artworks created by artists in the D.C. Metro area, according to the D.C. government website.

In the Wilson Building, there are over 200 artworks from the Art Bank with works from artists like Gene Davis and Alma Thomas. To see the collection, it is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. Free, guided tours are available on a bimonthly basis.

Walter E. Washington Convention Center

801 Mount Vernon Place Northwest, , DC 20001 (202) 249-3000 Visit Website

District of Columbia Government — John A. Wilson Building

1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Blind Whino SW Arts Club

700 Delaware Avenue Southwest, , DC 20024 Visit Website

Blind Whino

700 Delaware Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024

House of Sweden

2900 K Street Northwest, , DC 20007 Visit Website

Eastern Market

225 7th Street Southeast, , DC 20003 Visit Website