Historic streetcar station to reopen as art space


WASHINGTON — An old, underground streetcar station in D.C. has been unused and mostly forgotten for decades.

But the tunnels, under Dupont Circle, are reopening Saturday as an interactive art space.

It’s called Dupont Underground; to get in, visitors walk down stairs that streetcar riders used until the station closed in 1962.

Board member Lauren Victor said they’ve made no changes to the original structure, other than to wash the walls and floors.

“So it’s looking cleaner. Otherwise, it [has] original tiles and original tracks still in place,” Victor said while giving WTOP a sneak preview.

The last time the tunnels were used was for a food court in the 1990s.

Now, the space is filled with an installation called “Raise/Raze” that uses donated plastic balls from last summer’s popular “Beach” exhibit at the National Building Museum.

“The balls were made into cubes [and] cubes are held together by Velcro, and anything that’s not higher than your head, you’re going to be allowed to take apart and put together as you wish,” Victor said.

There is one exception: benches made from the ball-blocks for visitors to sit on, have been glued together and can’t be disassembled.

One part of the installation looks like a downsized version of the Colosseum.

Another is called “The Forest.”

“This is the one end where the ball structure actually goes floor to ceiling,” she said.

Although the installation will be open weekends and many weeknights from April 30 through June 1, timed tickets are completely sold out.

That could change since there’s so much demand.

“We are really trying to figure out ways that we can open up new time slots,” Victor said.

Dupont Underground has a five-year lease on the space, so more events will be planned.

So far, the project has been funded largely through donations, and Victor and other members of the board are donating their time.

If you’d like to donate, you can do so here.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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