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Alexandria, VA  22314   703-548-0035

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The Fifth Annual Athenaeum Invitational

The Athenaeum Invitational celebrates the visual arts of DC/MD/VA and is a theme-based event featuring the works of both specially-invited artists who have previously exhibited in the Athenaeum Gallery, as well as works selected through a call for submissions open to anyone living or working in DC/MD/VA.


A $1500 prize for the best work will be awarded to an invited artist, a $1000 prize will be awarded to an artist from the open call, a $500 prize will be awarded based on core concept and game design, and a viewers' choice award of $500 will be determined by popular vote.

The 2019 Athenaeum Invitational: Board: out of our minds!

From a purely aesthetic perspective, artists can submit work that relates in any way to board games which might explore a real or imagined board game, an environment where board games are being played, or people playing board games. Or artists may wish to develop a board game using their style and media of choice.

The possibilities are endless — games as a means of dealing with social issues or escaping reality; games as a reflection of a labyrinth or path to justice.  Perhaps a game might be way to explore the world or experience other cultures. Entries might be inspired by childhood memories of Candyland and Monopoly or today’s issues such as climate change or political rancor.  Have fun with the very concept of a game. 

While this is an art exhibition, entries that demonstrate creative brilliance through the core concept and game design are encouraged – as long as the end result can be hung on a wall with picture hooks and communicates the general idea or a particular aspect of the game with no more than a 750 word description.

Please join us for the opening reception and the awarding of prizes on Sunday, September 15 from 4 to 6!

Prior themes 

2018: The Curiosity Cabinet. 

Artists were invited to explore any aspect of Cabinets of Curiosities or Wunderkammers. Interpretations could be literal or abstract.

2017: Glow. 

Art selected for GLOW conveyed a sense of lightness or hope emanating from something dark.

2016: Oh, The joy! 

Artists were asked to reflect on a moment of pure joy. It was inspired by the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean. After an arduous, two-year trek, William Lewis crested a hill, saw the vast body of water and cried, “The Ocean in view. Oh! The joy!” It was in fact an estuary of the Columbia River.

2015:Don't Fence Me In. 

The inaugural Athenaeum Invitational was inspired by the various interpretations of Cole Porter's Don't Fence Me In - The Talking Heads to Roy Rogers.