Art Lover Details Plan To Establish Cultural Arts Center in Kensington

Museum will open with collection of photographs from President Obama’s time in office


Published:

Rendering of the proposed Sebrof-Forbes Cultural Arts Center in Kensington

Via Dennis Forbes

An author and art enthusiast from Virginia is looking to open a cultural arts center above a credit union in Kensington.

Dennis L. Forbes said he and his wife have always wanted to run a museum and scoured the D.C. metro area for the right location. In December, Forbes bought a 14,000-square-foot building for $3.2 million from Lafayette Federal Credit Union. After a few months of making renovations, he hopes to open the long-planned cultural arts center on the second and third floors.

Forbes said he was drawn to the building at 3535 University Blvd. W. because of its proximity to D.C. and Metro’s Red Line and because of its octagonal shape.

“It looks artistic,” he said.

Building at 3535 University Blvd. W. in Kensington. Via Google Maps.

The building also has plenty of parking and provides space for future expansion, Forbes said.

The museum will be called the Sebrof-Forbes Cultural Arts Center (“Sebrof” is Forbes spelled in reverse) and will occupy roughly 10,000 square feet of the building, with the credit union continuing to operate on the first floor. Forbes said the center will open with an exhibit focused on President Barack Obama’s eight years in office and include the photo collection of Gary Hunter, a Baptist minister and independent photographer.

Forbes said the center’s focus will be on culture and the forces that shape it.

“All cultures will be featured,” he said.

He envisions an exhibit on Levi jeans or the evolution of the sub sandwich. Forbes said he’d like to present the work of artists Sam Gilliam and Lou Stovall at some point.

The center could also function as a gathering space, where people could come for art talks, painting parties and poetry readings.

Forbes is soliciting contributions online, but at this point, he’s not planning on charging admission. He said he has financed the project and has not received any grants.

The building’s second floor needs to be gutted and improvements made on the third floor before the cultural arts center is ready to open, Forbes said. Mostly, the improvements are to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said, adding that he’ll be installing an elevator and adding a second building entrance for museum visitors.

Forbes said he hopes the arts center will be ready to open by May.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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