Dupont Underground: Abandoned tunnel turns destination for art fans

Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
The first exhibition at Dupont Underground is called “Raise/Raze,” which will consist of 650,000 plastic balls used during the Beach Exhibit last summer at the National Building Museum. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

A concept image from the design firm Hou de Souza. (Courtesy of Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground)
A concept image from the design firm Hou de Souza. (Courtesy of Dupont Underground Arts)

A concept image from the design firm Hou de Souza. (Courtesy of Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground)
A concept image from the design firm Hou de Souza. (Courtesy of Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground)

Dupont Underground. Abandoned trolley tunnels, a mile away from the White House, are turning into an art space. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

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Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A concept image from the design firm Hou de Souza. (Courtesy of Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground)
A concept image from the design firm Hou de Souza. (Courtesy of Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground)
Dupont Underground. Abandoned trolley tunnels, a mile away from the White House, are turning into an art space. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A look inside Dupont Underground. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

WASHINGTON — It was 1962 when D.C. pulled the plug on the city’s trolley system and shuttered the Dupont Circle station.

Other than a short stint as a fallout shelter in the 1960s and a food court in the 1990s, the station remained largely unused for more than 50 years.

For months now, the Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground has been in the forgotten tunnels with tracks, with the goal of adding art and welcoming the public in this year.

“It’s a way to show the world that this is a top-tier art city,” says Philippa Hughes, with the Arts Coalition for Dupont Underground.

The group is leasing the station from the city and plans to open its doors on April 30. The first exhibition is called “Raise/Raze,” which will consist of 650,000 plastic balls used during the Beach Exhibit last summer at the National Building Museum.

“People will be able to come down and see cubes everywhere and they can build them into different structures,” Hughes says.

Hou de Sousa, a firm from New York, won a design competition for the exhibit, and they will begin putting it together this weekend.

Hughes said volunteers have already begun work making the cubes which will be used to assemble the exhibit.

Getting the tunnel to this point has involved countless volunteer hours and has uncovered some interesting items, including tin cans with crackers from its time as a fallout shelter.

“There was a dentist chair … who knows why that was here,” Hughes says.

The $400,000 project has been supported mostly through crowd funding and is part of a five-year lease from the city to Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground.

Tickets for the first event, which runs from April 30 through June 1, are $15 and can be gotten here.

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