Published: November 2011
Torpedo Factory Art Center  

Just after World War I, a torpedo factory opened in Alexandria, Virginia just 15 minutes from Washington, D.C.  This factory was in production until 1945 and then became storage for the United States Government.  In the late 1960s the building was sold to the City of Alexandria.

The City of Alexandria decided to transform the building into an art center in 1979 and named it the Torpedo Factory Art Center.  This unique art center was created to provide a place for artists to work, citizens to observe and purchase their art and students to learn. Up until the early 1980s, the first artists worked in tough conditions. The building was bare bones and had no central heat or air conditioning.  In the eighties the renovations included improving the working conditions for the artists,, the addition of a floor and new floor plan.

Today the Torpedo Factory Art Center boasts 500,000 visitors annually, 82 artist studios and 165 artists.  When visitors enter the art center they are offered the opportunity to meet and interact with the artists. This personal connection between the artists and the customers offers people the chance to learn more about where the artist’s inspiration comes from, plus it allows people to connect with art in a way they would not get from a typical gallery.  The visitors are able to purchase the art directly from the artist while they are visiting.  Varieties of art found at the art center are glass, ceramics, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, enameling and fiber.

The process to become an artist at the Torpedo Factory Art Center entails a jury procedure.  The artists submit work on an annual basis for selection.  Once selected, the artist is offered studio subleases and works with resident artists.  This process opens the door for the new artists to work toward joining a studio lease on a permanent basis.  All types of art are represented.  If you are interested in becoming an artist at the Torpedo Factory Art Center visit their website at

The next time you are in Washington, D.C. or in Virginia consider visiting the Torpedo Factory Art Center.  You will not be disappointed in this unique opportunity to meet, converse and purchase art from the very artists that inspire you.  This is a free art center and their hours are 10-6 daily and 10-9 on Thursdays.  Located at 105 N. Union Street, Alexandria, Virginia. 703-838-4565.