For almost 20 years, the Goethe-Institut Washington has showed art exhibitions, hosted literary readings, screened film festivals, and taught scores of Washingtonians how to speak German from its modest perch at the corner of 7th and I Streets NW. In December, however, the German cultural center will be uprooted, to the dismay of staffers—forced out by rising rents in Chinatown, WAMU first reported.
“Unfortunately, the owner of our current building no longer wanted to offer us a reasonable rate for renting the space,” said Norma Broadwater, who works in the cultural programs office at the Goethe-Institut, in an email. “We are sad to be leaving such a long-time home.”
Over the holidays, the Goethe-Institut will move its offices to 1990 K Street NW, where it will stay for the next three years as it seeks out a more-permanent home. While it will be committed to the same programming on K Street, the new location will not include a cinema.
The Washington branch is one of six Goethe-Institut centers in the U.S. and one of the few cultural institutions that has made its home in Chinatown. While the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are located just across the street from the Verizon Center, few local art institutions have found any purchase in the neighborhood, which has grown into D.C.’s most foot-trafficked area over the last decade. One exception is Flashpoint, a gallery, dance studio, and black-box theater located at 916 G Street NW, just a few blocks from Goethe-Institut Washington.
The Goethe-Institut has been a strong center for the visual arts in D.C., especially for photography. The annual “Gute Aussichten: New German Photography” series has served as a model cultural exchange, introducing work by emerging artists from a single country that might otherwise by difficult to discover. Recently, the Goethe-Institut assembled a show of works by Justine Otto, a painter who received the 2014 Emerging Artist Prize from the Phillips Collection for the works she showed at the (e)merge Art Fair last year.
The Goethe-Institut has not yet said when it will resume programming at the new K Street location. “It will take a while for us to get situated in our new space and know what we can offer,” Broadwater said.
Correction: This post originally said the Goethe-Institut was located on the corner of 9th and I Streets NW. It’s located at the corner of 7th and I Streets NW.
Photo by Flickr user ep_jhu under a Creative Commons License.