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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.


This year, instead of an invitational component, the exhibition will be 100% selected from entries to an open call for submissions.

Prior themes 

2019: Board. out of our minds!

Artists were invited to explore real or imagined board games, an environment where board games are being played, or people playing board games.

2018: The Curiosity Cabinet. 

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

Artists are invited to submit works that represent the full gamut of how the global Coronavirus pandemic and its associated ‘social distancing’ has affected them. Fear, uncertainty, anger and doubt are certainly typical responses but we are also interested in evidence of the creative benefits of solitude and reflection and the time to process them. 


We plan to assemble an exhibition that both chronicles this particular moment in time and surprises viewers with unique and unexpected perspectives.


Five $500 prizes will be awarded, selected by an independent arts expert, and awarded at the opening reception on Sunday, September 13, 2020 and a $500 peoples choice prize will be awarded at the end of the exhibition.

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.

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