Washington, DC was recently ranked the No. 1 destination for museums in the world. Home to dozens of museums and galleries, many of them free, DC has an exhibit for every art lover, from museums on the National Mall to galleries in the Dupont Circle, Penn Quarter and Georgetown neighborhoods.
Located on the National Mall, the expansive National Gallery of Art houses the only Leonardo da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere, plus a remarkable collection of works by Monet, Rembrandt, Goya and other masters in its West Wing. In the I.M. Pei-designed East Wing, you’ll find mobiles by Calder and prints by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and other notable contemporary artists.
American art enthusiasts won’t want to miss a trip to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. The sprawling museums share a building in the bustling Penn Quarter and are filled with works by Winslow Homer, Thomas Hart Benton, George Catlin, Georgia O’Keefe and others, plus the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House. Both museums frequently host innovative exhibitions as well.
DC’s privately owned art galleries charge admission, but they’re well worth the entrance fee. Only at The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, can you view Renoir’s "The Luncheon of the Boating Party" in its permanent home and a selection of Mark Rothko’s famous abstract impressionist paintings in a room designed by the artist himself. The city’s oldest art museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, regularly plays host to major art, culture and photography exhibitions. The Textile Museum, Kreeger Museum and National Museum of Women in the Arts are also must-sees.
While DC celebrates great artists through the ages, the city keeps pace with the contemporary art world as well. Take a stroll along 14th Street near Logan Circle for a glimpse of the vibrant modern gallery scene. A former automobile dealership, the Arts Building at 1515 14th St. NW is home to several art galleries specializing in prints, photography and contemporary arts.
Trendy furniture and home furnishings stores abound in the neighborhood, one of the city’s liveliest residential quarters. Or take a stroll through the emerging Atlas District in Northeast DC, where you'll find contemporary creations at locations like Industry Gallery and Conner Contemporary Art.