A former torpedo factory might not be your first thought when on a hunt for art in the Washington D.C. area, but the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia is worth a visit. Alexandria is easily reached by metro from anywhere in Washington D.C., and a free trolley runs from the metro station straight down King Street in Alexandria’s historic district. The final stop on the trolley finds you near the wharf, just steps from the torpedo factory.
The former factory is now a complex containing three floors of working artist studios. Admission is free, and you can watch the artists at work and discuss their creations with them. It’s the perfect place to find an unusual gift for friends and family back home, or to purchase something special to remind you of your vacation.
Visitors are encouraged to stroll through the center at their own speed, but guided tours by one of the artists are also offered every Friday at 1 p.m. With more than 165 visual artists working on site, your tour is sure to showcase something that strikes your fancy. There is also an archaeology museum and an actual torpedo from 1945 on display. The center opened its doors as an artist collective in 1974 and currently houses artists working in ceramics, collage and mixed media, fibers, glass, jewelry, photography, painting and drawing, printmaking, and sculpture.