The Best of Washington, DC Transit Art

Public art abounds on the streets of Washington, DC and thanks to the district "Art in Transit" program, great street art is rivaled only by the underground version. From grand sculptures to painted murals, many metro stations feature the works of prominent local artists. As we explore the best cities to view transit art, Washington, DC with its well-traveled metro system ranks high on the list.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was established in 1967 and includes 91 metro stations that operate as part of the WMATA. Much to the benefit of the mass transit commuting public, the WMATA board has prioritized art in the facilities for which it has oversight, including train stations, bus depots, and metro stations. In fact, over 30 of the metro stations and other transit facilities feature public artworks which enhance the rider experience, helping tired travelers and commuters to enjoy the aesthetic even when they know they can expect delays. Among them, you can find striking and thought-provoking artwork at NoMa Gallaudet metro station, Silver Spring, and Union Station, as well as several stations for which we're highlighting an example of great artwork at each.


Gallery Place Station

The Gallery Place metro station is in the heart of DC and serves a range of daily commuters from busy government executives to residents and visitors to Chinatown. The Gallery Place artwork we're highlighting is “The Glory of the Chinese Descendants.”

The brightly lit wall sculpture pays tribute to Washington DC's early Chinese descendants as well as the culture and community that is their legacy.“The Glory of Chinese Descendants,” photo by Elvert BarnesConstructed of wood, neon light, aluminum, and plexiglass, the art is representative of traditional items utilized in Chinese culture including eating utensils and other practical tools. Artist Foon Shan incorporates the impression of lanterns, fans, and chopsticks which morph together in one mesmerizing semicircular work of art.

Where to find it: 616 H St NW, Washington, DC“Train Arriving at Busy Platform” by UGallery artist Swarup Dandapat

Farragut North Station

A quick metro ride on the red line takes you to Farragut North in a hurry, where you will find the “Voyage on the Mississippi River.” As though imitating the waves of the water, the illuminated "Voyage" brings nautical energy to the metro station. Erected upon concrete panels, it pays homage to the metro station's namesake Admiral Farragut and represents the admiral's famous journey on the Mississippi River.

The piece was created by artist Jefre Manuel and is crafted of acrylic resin and LED lights.

Where to find it: 1001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC

L'enfant Plaza StationPhoto by Elvert Barnes

Even the weariest of metro riders can't resist the image of a dog in a spacesuit, let alone two of them. At L'Enfant Plaza Station, porcelain enamel photographs “H-E-L-L-O” and “Space Set, 2005” feature the artist William Wegman's dogs in space suits. The creations are a nod to the nearby NASA administrative offices, as well as another opportunity for Wegman to portray his dogs in scenarios typically reserved for humans.

429 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC

We hope this has been an insightful journey and snapshot of the many amazing artworks that can be found as part of the DC transit system. 

Interested in viewing original artworks without leaving the house? Check out the UGallery website for new art posted weekly.