Hometown Tourist, Ch 3: Torpedo Factory

It’s been a while since we’ve had time to play tourist in Washington DC. The weather was gross earlier this week, but we decided to venture out to the Torpedo Factory in Old Town, Virginia. (If you aren’t local, Old Town is a swanky part of Alexandria, VA, which is part of the greater metro-Washington DC area). The factory describes itself as “one of the largest and most celebrated visual arts centers in the United States.” Translated, i would describe it as an artists workshop with a variety of textiles, fabrics, paintings, sculptures and ceramics to enjoy.

If you like or appreciate art and have visited the majority of DC’s galleries, this the place for you. It’s full of unique pieces and i really liked how the factory has a little bit of every medium. It keeps even the most unfocused person tuned-in to what’s in front of them. It’s a casual place and many of the kiosks are working studios so you can chat with the artist.

A few favorites from my trip include Greg Knott who had some clever photography. I also really liked Alison Sigethy who uses environmental friendly materials to create nature-inspired art glass. She has some stunning pieces.

Paper mache Rhino at the Torpedo Factory
Also a personal favorite: this paper mache hippo.

We went on a Monday so this wasn’t an option but the Torpedo Factory offers a guided tour on Friday’s at 1:00 p.m. And, the 2nd Thursday of each month they have Art Night. It’s pretty much what it sounds: open galleries, conversation with artists and refreshments.

Interesting note, the Torpedo Factory at one point was once an actual torpedo factory, post World War 1.

Display at the Torpedo Factory featuring --wait for it-- old torpedo's made at the cite
Display at the Torpedo Factory featuring –wait for it– old torpedo’s made at the site

Torpedo Factory is best accessed by car. You can take the Blue Line to King Street and then hop on the trolley across town. This adds about 30 minutes to your trip. While they have a snack shop on the main floor, we found it understaffed and outrageously slow for a Monday afternoon. Skip it and try a pub in the area instead.

Torpedo Factory is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. However, specific artists hours do vary.


Author: Judi Kennedy

Wanderlust. A professional aunt, fitness enthusiast, dog owner and avid reader the rest of the time.

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