Torpedo Factory Art Center

Page updated on Sep 3, 2019 at 4:19 PM

Torpedo Factory Art Center

Founded in 1974 in an old munitions plant, Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to the nation’s largest number of publicly accessible working artist studios under one roof. The City of Alexandria manages the Art Center through the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, as part of the Office of the Arts' family of programming. (Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.)

An Alexandria landmark for more than 45 years, it’s the highlight of the Potomac Riverfront, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors annually. Find artwork in a wide variety of media–including painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, stained glass, fiber, printmaking, and sculpture–in  82 open artists’ studios. Observe the creative process and ask questions. 

Torpedo Factory Art Center is also home to the City's  Alexandria Archaeology Museum, operated by the Office of Historic Alexandria; the independent nonprofit  The Art League Gallery and School; two group workshops; five artist-run galleries and a cafe by Bread & Water Co.

For more information, visit torpedofactory.org or follow the Art Center on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest via @torpedofactory.

To help answer additional questions, visit our  Frequently Asked Questions page.


Celebrate the History

Ground broke on the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station in 1918, the day after Armistice Day ended WWI. The building opened in 1919 and the first Mark III torpedoes rolled off the assembly line in 1920. The plant was active for five years before becoming munitions storage. In WWII, it produced Mark XIV torpeoes. By the war's end, it converted to government storage for the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Records, Smithsonian dinosaur bones, and other large objects and archives. The City of Alexandria acquired the complex in 1969, setting the stage for the Art Center that stands today. 

45th Anniversary Salute
Sunday, September 15
2 - 5 p.m.

On this date in 1974, the Art Center officially opened to the public. Join an afternoon honoring the history and toast to the founders. Hear proclamations by U.S. Rep. Don Byer and Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. Founder Marian Van Landingham will also speak.

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Anniversary Ball
Saturday, November 16
7 - 10 p.m.

Celebrate like it's 1919 or 1974, as the building turns 100 and the Art Center turns 45. Enjoy light fare, drinks, a retrospective showcase, guest presenters, and live music. Dress to impress. 

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A Study of the Studies: Themes and Recommendations for a Vibrant and Sustainable Torpedo Factory Art Center

The City of Alexandria has undertaken a process to determine the vibrancy and sustainability of Torpedo Factory Art Center. As part of that process, the City contracted with SmithGroup and Chora to review the 16 existing studies about the Art Center and develop a set of overarching goals and recommendations based on those existing plans. In July 2019, SmithGroup and Chora presented to the City, “ A Study of the Studies: Themes and Recommendations for a Vibrant and Sustainable Torpedo Factory Art Center.”

Both consultants were selected based on their work with outstanding national and international arts and culture institutions.  SmithGroup has a vast knowledge of the City of Alexandra from working together in the past and is supported by a seasoned Cultural division having worked with institutions including the National Park Service and Smithsonian Institution. Chora has completed strategic planning for notable institutions including the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

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Torpedo Factory Community Engagement Report

As part of the continued transition of Torpedo Factory Art Center (Art Center), staff in Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities; Planning and Zoning; and the City Manager's Office engaged Diane Mataraza and Surale Phillips to undertake a community engagement process and get feedback from the community about their use and experience at the Art Center. The Alexandria Commission for the Arts appointed a five-member task force to advise on the community engagement process.  

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To ensure that a variety of voices and perspectives were gathered, the consultant team, with input from the Task Force, developed a community engagement strategy that included a variety of opportunities for people to participate and provide their feedback with the intent of reaching the diverse residents of Alexandria.

Three survey protocols were developed – an intercept survey, an online survey for members of The Art League, and an artist survey. The questions in the intercept survey and the online survey were identical, however the intercept survey (done in person and by phone) were geographically representative and was designed to be the primary survey and has been given more significance. The artist survey was developed to ensure that all points of view were considered.

The report only contains the feedback from participants who indicated they live within the city of Alexandria. Additionally, the report combines the results of the Intercept Survey and the Online Survey and is called “City Resident Survey Results".

The engagement process was completed in spring 2018 and received by the City and presented to the task force in September 2018. The Alexandria Commission for the Arts received the report in October 2018.

In March 2016, the Torpedo Factory Art Center Board (TFACB) and the Alexandria Commission for the Arts (ACA) approved the  Torpedo Factory Art Center Report by Cultural Planning Group that had been commissioned by the TFACB. The report outlined four recommendations to align the facility for future success. Since then, the City Manager has received three additional reports:  

  1. Vision for the Torpedo Factory Art Center submitted by Community Members for the Future of the Torpedo Factory

  2. A Discourse of the Recommendations for the Torpedo Factory Art Center submitted by the Executive Committees of the TFACB, the Torpedo Factory Artist Association (TFAA), and the President and CEO of The Art League

  3. Charting a new Course: Steering the Torpedo Factory Art Center Toward a Sustainable Future: The Business Plan for the Torpedo Factory submitted by the TFAA.

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