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The Rubell Museum opened on Oct. 29
Visit the new Rubell Museum in Washington, D.C.

and GRACE YARROW Capital News Service
The Rubell Museum opened on Oct. 29
Visit the new Rubell Museum in Washington, D.C.
In Washington, D.C.’s newest art museum, natural light streams in through arched windows, and the songs of Marvin Gaye fill the air as visitors scrutinize the works of artists like Keith Haring, whose series of 20 paintings was inspired by Gaye’s groundbreaking music.
The Rubell Museum is a unique addition to the art scene in the nation’s capital and features contemporary pieces from the personal collection of the Rubells, a multigenerational family of art enthusiasts. The museum opened on Oct. 29.
Located on I Street in Southwest D.C., the Rubell is housed in what once was a historically Black public school, Randall Junior High School, where singer Marvin Gaye was a student. In fact, the museum’s first exhibition, “What’s Going On,” is a homage to Gaye and his music.
At the museum’s entrance, visitors are greeted by a modern glass addition to the former school. The concrete stairs are adorned with mums, and a coffee pop-up sits atop an adjoining porch. The museum is situated in D.C.’s rapidly fast-developing neighborhood near the Washington Navy Yard, Nationals Park and Audi Field, home to Major League Soccer’s D.C. United.
Past the entrance, the space opens into a grand hall — read high school auditorium — featuring four large-scale pieces bathed in sunlight. One of the works is a massive pandemic-themed fabric tapestry by New York artist Christopher Myers.
The former auditorium also hosts a sprawling piece by Kehinde Wiley, famous for his portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. The piece is a modern reimagining of 18th-century French artist Jean-Bernard Restout’s painting, “Sleep.”
The sheer size of the 32,000-foot museum allows for viewers to comfortably wander among the exhibits. In the basement, exposed brick walls and raw concrete flooring set the scene for works carefully placed to give visitors a sense of participation and room to explore art with darker tones.
Throughout, works reflect themes of social and political issues, with artists tackling subjects like racial violence, capitalism, environmental destruction and the exploitation of bodies and sexuality.
The different rooms of the museum host a variety of pieces, from golden ruins to a covered wagon with a roof woven of state flags and an interior resembling the night sky by artist Matthew Day Jackson.
A series of paintings and sculptures on the third floor is texturally linked by fuzz.
Keith Haring’s series of 20 paintings, highlighted prominently in the current exhibit, depicts the artist’s worries about oppression, destruction and illness, which he created while constantly listening to “What’s Going On.” The series was dedicated to Don Rubell’s brother, Steve, who died from AIDS in 1989 at 45.
Mera and Don Rubell began collecting art shortly after they got married in 1964. Their son, Jason, began his collection in 1982. Since then, the family has built a reputation for supporting contemporary art; the Rubells opened a museum in Miami in 2019.
“The museum’s historic setting in a place of learning invites the public to explore what artists can teach us about the world we live in and the issues with which we are wrestling as individuals and as a society,” Mera Rubell said in a statement about the Washington museum.
Where: 65 I St. SW, Washington, D.C.
Admission: $15
Info: 202-964-8254, rubellmuseum.org/dc
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This sounds awesome! Hope to get down to visit this.
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