DC Artswatch: NBM, Mosaic, Ken Cen, Studio Conservatory, Hirshhorn


Building Museum Celebrates 40 Years

The National Building Museum, housed in the mammoth 1887 Pension Building at 401 F St. NW, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week with a number of free online programs. On Friday, Dec. 11, at noon, photographer Alan Karchmer will lead a tour of “The Architect’s Photographer,” an exhibition of his work. At 3 p.m., architect Wendy Evans Joseph will give members an exclusive preview of the museum’s new visitor center. Two videos will be released on Saturday, Dec. 12: a behind-the-scenes tour of the collections and a tribute to the museum’s history.

Ari Roth Leaves Mosaic Theater

Mosaic Theater Company founder and Artistic Director Ari Roth resigned from the Atlas Performing Arts Center-based company last month. A Nov. 18 Washington Post story by Peter Marks quotes Roth saying of staff members and the board’s executive committee: “They’ve become enamored with a new ideologically driven structural model to run a company.” Roth founded Mosaic shortly after his firing in December of 2014 as longtime artistic director of Theater J, the company of D.C.’s Edlavitch Jewish Community Center, in part due to the controversial Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival, which moved with him to Mosaic.

Kennedy Center COVID Update

In November, the Kennedy Center canceled “all previously scheduled full-capacity programs,” including National Symphony Orchestra concerts, through April 25, along with many touring programs, notably Broadway shows, extending into next summer. The center also announced free access to its Digital Stage+ premium content platform. Washington National Opera, which launched a virtual series, “Come, Hope,” has canceled its May production of “La bohème” and its July production of “Blue.” As of now, the Paul Taylor Dance Company is scheduled to perform from May 20 to 22 and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from June 22 to 27.

Acting School Preserves Altarpiece

The new home of Studio Acting Conservatory, 3423 Holmead Place NW in Columbia Heights, will display an African American Last Supper created in the 1980s by sculptor Akili Ron Anderson for a prior tenant, New Home Baptist Church. After the congregation moved to Landover, Maryland, the building became a Latter-Day Saints church, then was purchased by the now-independent conservatory, founded by Joy Zinoman in 1975, three years before she founded Studio Theatre. Too large to be moved, the frieze was restored by a team from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as reported in a recent Washingtonian magazine story. Zinoman hopes the conservatory can return to in-person training in 2021.

Former Hirshhorn Director Dies

James T. Demetrion, who led the Hirshhorn Museum from 1984 to 2001, died on Nov. 29 at age 90. The second director (after Abram Lerner) of the Smithsonian’s museum of modern and contemporary art, which opened in Gordon Bunshaft’s landmark “doughnut” of concrete and crushed granite in 1974, Demetrion guided the Hirshhorn to the next level, bolstering both its holdings — originally the personal collection of uranium mogul Joseph Hirshhorn — and its endowment. A protégé of influential curator Walter Hopps, Demetrion mentored several future museum directors, including his Hirshhorn successors Ned Rifkin and Olga Viso.

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