Dallas’s Perot Museum: Design as mere decoration

DALLAS — It’s remarkable how slow — and disjointed — architecture can sometimes appear.

For nearly a decade, younger architects have pushed for a new agenda in the profession. They’ve been critical of the expensive, highly mannered and sometimes self-indulgent trophy buildings turned out by some of the world’s most prominent firms. And they’ve helped bring different and more public-minded priorities to the fore.

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Wayne Reynolds makes a lavish push for a bold plan for the Corcoran

Top of the Hay at the Hay-Adams, the ballroom known for its sparkling views of the White House and downtown Washington, is typically reserved for after-parties. After the wedding, after you’re chairman or, in the case of former CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, after you’ve been sentenced to 30 months in prison. But Wayne Reynolds throws parties before making big announcements.

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Nothing plain in Aline Feldman’s panoramas

Wood block or woodcut printing developed in Asia and Europe, but in recent centuries its most artistic forms are associated primarily with Japan. So it’s hardly surprising to discover that Aline Feldman, whose work is at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, studied with Unichi Hiratsuka, a Japanese printmaker who spent time in Washington. But the prints in “Landscapes/Cityscapes: Images From Wood” take Japanese techniques in new directions.

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Kim Sajet enters the picture at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery has an identity opportunity. One might be tempted to call it a problem if Kim Sajet weren’t at the helm.

The new director of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, who starts her term Monday, has a penchant for pushing the boundaries of portraiture and history beyond dead kings and presidents.

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Freer Gallery’s Peacock Room, where sunlight is restrained, was painted without restraint

On Day 2 of this coquettish spring, ashen skies cleared just enough so that the Freer Gallery of Art’s monthly afternoon of sun-worshiping was not in vain.

A staff member wearing gloves to protect oil paint from oily hands announced that noon had come and gone; they were four minutes late. It was time to arouse the dueling peacocks and the fair-faced princess of porcelain; time to allow this chameleonic room to dazzle its eager guests.

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Central American ceramics at the National Museum of the American Indian

On Friday, the National Museum of the American Indian opens an exhibition showcasing the museum’s extensive collection of Central American ceramics. Also among the 160 objects in “Ceramica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed” are works in gold, jade, shell and stone, from 1000 B.C. to the present.

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Gallery opening of the week: Kathryn Cornelius

Followers of the contemporary art scene may recall Kathryn Cornelius’s performance at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, during which she married and divorced seven strangers in one day. Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m., Curator’s Office hosts a reception for an exhibition based on the fallout of that event. “Let’s Not Ever Be Strangers Again” features video, photographs, audio and installation documenting the stunt.

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The Gate: The U.S. Botanic Garden

It’s officially spring. While we wait for the cherry blossoms to peak, a trip to the U.S. Botanic Garden — a “living plant museum” — might help bend our minds toward the warmth and renewal of the season. Established by Congress in 1820, it is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. Its mission is to demonstrate “the aesthetic, cultural, economic, therapeutic and ecological importance of plants,” but an afternoon stroll through also just makes you feel good.

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