Destination DC, the official convention and tourism bureau for the US capital, will welcome significant hospitality and cultural additions as well as significant arts anniversaries. The continuing boom in neighborhood redevelopment, fueled by $9.2 billion in fiscal investment, also brings dozens of original restaurants, nightclub and retail experiences in the new year.
“We are as excited about the volume of soon-to-open hotels and cultural institutions as we are the number of arts-related anniversaries in 2016,”said Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. “This intersection of new and established inventory - plus election year buzz - makes the District of Columbia a compelling destination for leisure visitors and business travelers who add an extra day or a weekend to their itinerary,” said Ferguson.
“We’re honored to have the both the American Alliance of Museums meeting over the Memorial Day weekend and the National Museum of African American History and Culture opening later in the year. These events underline what a compelling living classroom our city can be. Coupled with exciting nightlife and unique retail, DC is the place to be in 2016.”
Among the significant additions expected in the year ahead:
The Watergate Hotel: The legendary Foggy Bottom hotel reopens as a luxurious 337-room escape in Winter 2016 following a $120M renovation. The property will sport Top of the Gate, a rooftop bar with panoramic views of the Potomac River, a fine restaurant and two event spaces. The high-styled hotel features nods to its modernist roots: Industrial designer Michael Arad will debut his Watergate Chair and staff uniforms have been created by "Mad Men" costumer Janie Bryant.
Mason & Rook: Kimpton Hotel’s property adjacent to the bustling 14th Street corridor is set to be a chic stay-work-and-play space. The contemporary hotel will boast 178 rooms, 18 suites and a restaurant with a design nod to the fraternal roots of the nation’s founding fathers.
Glover Park Hotel: High on the hill overlooking Georgetown this eight-story property will take design inspiration from the neighborhood’s founder, Charles Carroll Glover who donated 3,000 acres of parkland to the city. An eight-story mural of Rock Creek Park will grace the exterior of the hotel. Twenty-five of the guest rooms will boast view of the Potomac and 21 will feature kitchenettes for families and those who prefer to self-cater. There will be a restaurant and bar on the property.
NEW CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS
The National Museum of African American History and Culture: The final Smithsonian Institution museum to be built above ground on the National Mall is expected to open in Fall 2016. The 400,000-square foot museum, wrapped in a three-tiered bronze corona, is designed to tell the story of the richness and diversity of the African American experience in 33,000-plus objects.
National Museum of American History: The reimaging for the three-story 120,000 square-foot west exhibition wing across continues. The first floor themed “Innovation” opened July 1, 2015. The second floor, themed “The Nation We Build Together” will open in Summer 2016. This space will provide opportunities to discuss America as a meeting place, democracy and immigration. The third floor’s theme is “American Culture” is expected to open in Summer 2017.
Among the 2016 calendar’s anniversary highlights and cultural high points:
60th anniversary season of the Washington National Opera continues with the world premiere of "Better Gods," an hour-long opera about Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalani (Jan. 8-9, 2016). Also in January: The National Zoo’s adorable giant panda cub Bei Bei will make his public debut on Jan. 16, 2016, just in time for the Martin Luther King, Jr. long weekend. He is the only baby giant panda on display in the Western Hemisphere free of charge.
Reopened in November 2015 following a years-long renovation, the Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s gallery of American craft, will remove its opening show, Wonder to reinstall the permanent collection.
Also in February: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts debuts an annual the Chinese New Year celebration with a week of performances and special exhibitions (February 1-8) culminating with the Kennedy Center debut of the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra. A free Family Day will be held on Feb. 6. To honor the centennial of the National Parks Service, the U.S. Botanic Gardens hosts a living exhibition, "The Flora of America’s National Parks" (February 18-October 2).
The 104th National Cherry Blossom Festival runs March 20-April 17. While it’s impossible to predict the exact dates of the blossoms, the festival’s parade packed with marching bands, giant inflatables, floats and celebrity marshals will take place April 16, 2017. The nation’s largest springtime celebration will also include a fun run, fireworks, concerts and a Japanese street fair.
Also in March: The Verizon Center welcomes the 14-game ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, March 8-12. Also, the Shakespeare Theatre hosts the award-winning U.K. theater company Headlong performing Orwell’s "1984," (March 8-April 10). This West End production earned a five-star review from the UK newspaper, The Guardian.
Georgetown’s premiere decorative arts museum and historic house, Tudor Place marks its 200th anniversary throughout 2016. A Federal style mansion, Tudor Place was built for George Washington’s granddaughter in 1816 and stayed in the Peter family as a private family home for six generations. The home and its five-acre landscaped gardens sit on a city block in the heart of Georgetown. The formal celebrations begin April 29-30 with a reenactment of the Oval Office at Tudor Place, a presentation in partnership with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Museum of the American Revolution. The fun continues July 2 with an official Birthday Party open house and on October 5 with an 1816 dinner.
Also in April: The Newseum debuts "CNN Politics: Campaign 2016," a new interactive exhibit that will tell the story of the 2016 presidential campaign in real time. The exhibit opens on April 15.
The National Gallery of Art marks the 75th anniversary of its opening with "In Celebration of Paul Mellon," (May 2-October 8) an exhibition dedicated to the passion and eye of one of the gallery’s foremost benefactors. More than 100 of the finest drawings, pastels, prints, illustrated books by the likes of Degas, van Gogh, Ingres and Toulouse-Lautrec from his donations will be on display.
Also in May: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts marks the 100th anniversary of Ireland with a three-week long "Ireland 100," an arts festival curated by renowned actress Fiona Shaw, May 17-June 5. At the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, a world premiere of "District Merchants" a retelling of "A Merchant of Venice" set in post-Civil War Washington, DC run May 31- July 3 in their Elizabethan theater. The Washington Ballet closes out their 40th anniversary season with "Bowie & Queen," an evening of classical dance set to high-octane pop soundtrack.
The Smithsonian Institution’s ever-popular National Air and Space Museum celebrates its 40th birthday with the reopening of the Boeing Milestones of Flight gallery on July 1. Tudor Place hosts its 200th birthday party on July 2. The Georgetown home of George Washington’s granddaughter, Tudor Place is a historic house museum and gardens, as well as a repository of fine American decorative arts. On July 4th, the National Archives marks the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights with family day activities before the national Fourth of July parade – which passes directly in front of the National Archives. Also on July 4th, the National Independence Day Parade, the star-studded and nationally televised A Capital Fourth concert followed by fireworks over the monuments.
Also in July: Folklife Festival, the Smithsonian Institution’s pop-up museum of living culture will run June 29-July 4 and July 7-10 and the National Gallery’s special exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of the gallery, "In Celebration of Paul Mellon" (May 8-September 18, 2016).
Throughout 2015-2016, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary. On August 25, the NPS will mark Founders Day. Details will be share on #FindYourPark.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is scheduled to open Fall 2016. The final Smithsonian Institution museum on the National Mall sits on five acres adjacent to the Washington Monument, the National Museum of American History and the White House. The building, four-stories below ground, four stories above, is wrapped in a lacy bronze corona teasing glimpses of the 33,000-plus objects in the collection that includes slave shackles and Louis Armstrong’s trumpet as well as monumental pieces like a Jim Crow-era railway car and an Angola prison tower that were installed before the museum was completed. The museum is designed to tell the story of African Americans from the diaspora to present day. Opening date and celebrations are to be announced.
The 50th anniversary of Wolf Trap, the National Park for the Performing Arts (also #FindYourPark), will be celebrated on October 15, 2016.
Also in October: The Phillips Collection in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art reunite Jacob Lawrence’s masterwork "The Migration Series," the seminal, 60-panel work by one of the most celebrated African American artists of the 20th century. The exhibition "People on the Move: Beauty and Struggle in Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series" runs October 8, 2016-January 8, 2017.