The Metropolitan School of the Arts—formerly the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center—was founded more than 14 years ago. This multidisciplinary performing-arts organization takes a holistic approach to teaching and encouraging performance-arts skills, creating performance opportunities in dance, music, and theater for a diverse population of students of all ages and abilities. Its students have gone to perform on Broadway, at The Juilliard School, and in highly esteemed companies, such as the Mark Morris Dance Company, The Washington Ballet, and Ford's Theater and Signature Theater. Youth programs include year-round programs in dance, theater, music, music-theater, and acting, as well as a performing-arts program in the summer, all for children as young as 2. Adult classes range from basic to advanced, including ballet, jazz, and tap lessons, plus yoga and ballet-barre fitness workouts.
Part art gallery, part cocoa bar, Artfully Chocolate was established in 2007 when owner Eric Nelson quit his job as an executive in order to pursue his artistic passions. Needing a little something extra to draw attention to his shop and unwilling to sound a tornado siren after every purchase, Eric called on the services of friend and chocolatier Rob Kingsbury. Kingsbury instantly infused the colorful gallery with the sweet allure Eric was seeking.
Today, the duo's handiwork takes center stage inside two different locations: Eric's masterpieces parade across the walls, and Rob's expertise reveals itself in sips and bites of decadent drinks and pastries. They also host tasting classes, including a wine-pairing class and chocolate-tasting class.
The art-preservation specialists at Adler's Art & Frame furnish masterpiece-seekers and magnum-opus owners with high-quality framed artwork and framing services. Garnish your wall with the snow-sprinkled front lawn of the nation's most famous house with Rod Chase's piece America's Home ($60+), or commemorate your favorite equine barbershop quartet with a picture of Nancy Glazier's Amazing Grays III ($60+), a glimpse of four horses posing in a field for their eponymous album cover. Prices for framing services depend on the size of the artwork and the apparatuses used. Bestow borders upon your favorite family portrait or your cat's kindergarten report card with an 8"x10" custom framing ($88), which includes one mat, conservation glass, and frame, or add another mat for extra memory conservation ($113).
Gallery Lafayette offers customized-framing treatments and original prints, watercolors, and gifts. Using special conservation glass and acid-free mat boards, skilled frame-ologists protect prized photographs and collectibles from the damaging effects of light, humidity, acidity, and Father Time's righteous fists for unblemished wall hanging. The average custom-framing order is around $180—combine two Groupons and frame your favorite oversized obedience-school diploma or Ken Burns–autographed placemat. Inside the gallery, customers will find an assortment of gifts featuring pen-and-ink illustrations of classic Old Town landmarks such as Captain's Row and Gadsby's Tavern. Images are magically transferred onto tote bags ($30), tea towels ($15.95), and more. Snag a set of eight note cards ($12.95) to start a one-man letter-writing campaign to rename the Route 1 IHOP to the William Howard Taft Memorial House of Pancakes.
Since it was first settled in 1669, and officially established in 1749, the city of Alexandria has played a crucial role in American history. It has existed as a tobacco trading post, a busy port, home to a large free-black community, and a Civil War supply center for Union troops. Famous figures such as George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and Mama Cass once claimed it as their hometown. Now, more than 260 years since the town’s first historic buildings were constructed, visitors can tour them year-round—with the aid of interpreters dressed in American colonial and Victorian garb.
The Alexandria Archaeology Museum displays artifacts unearthed from the city’s streets; the Alexandria Black History Museum welcomes visitors into African American heritage exhibits; and the Fort Ward Museum, a preserved Union fort, hosts regular Civil War reenactments and slumber parties. Along the town’s winding streets, visitors can also step over historic thresholds at Lee-Fendall House and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum; Carlyle House Historic Park, a Union hospital during the Civil War; and Gadsby's Tavern Museum, a favored haunt of founding fathers, journalists, and military officers. Historians and staff also bring history into the present through weekly activities such as fencing classes at the tavern, farmers’ markets at Market Square, restoration workshops, 18th century fashion shows, and film screenings.
Considered to be the country's only public museum devoted to the history of global espionage, the International Spy Museum teems with multimedia displays, hands-on activities, and educational events. Filled with low-lit halls and mysterious doors, the museum backs up its exhibits with experience; many of its board members, staff, and speakers are former spies. Executive Director Peter Earnest, for one, spent more than 35 years in the CIA and its National Clandestine Service; frequent speaker Oleg Kalugin once held a position as major general of the KGB. Through special talks and an array of exhibits, the group reveals several hundred years of spy techniques and gadgetry, showcases connections between real spies and pop culture, and draws from international backgrounds to grant a global perspective.
In the Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains exhibit, visitors explore the most memorable villains from throughout the James Bond film series, discovering the role the series played in shaping public perception of spying and exploring how the villains changed to reflect their times. Featuring over 110 movie and historic artifacts, a series galleries allows visitors to learn about the wide variety of evildoers from many perspectives. For an additional charge, guests can opt to embark on a simulated covert mission entirely based on real intelligence case files in Operation Spy, a one-hour interactive exhibit during which participants ride in simulated truck beds and use video surveillance to find leaked nuclear-trigger technology in a fictional country.