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Visiting the National Gallery of Art
Experience some of the most vital art in the world at this renowned museum in Washington, DC
What and where is the National Gallery of Art?
The National Gallery of Art and its gorgeous Sculpture Garden (which features an ice rink in the winter time) are located on Constitution Avenue NW between 3rd and 9th Streets NW. Through its East and West Buildings, the museum preserves, collects and exhibits works of art from numerous countries and historical eras. Its collection features roughly 141,000 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and forms of new media that stretch all the way back to the Middle Ages.
The museum is open every day of the year except Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Its hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Monday – Saturday and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is always free.
The easiest way to reach the National Gallery of Art is via Metrorail or the DC Circulator. The closest Metro stop is Archives – Navy Memorial – Penn Quarter on the Green and Yellow Lines. The DC Circulator’s National Mall route will take you near the Gallery’s buildings and Sculpture Garden – making it easy to continue your exploration of the National Mall afterwards. The facility is handicap-accessible.
The National Gallery of Art regularly features temporary exhibits that highlight distinctive artists in a range of mediums. From Renaissance masters to modern day marvels, you will be able to take in creations that advance and challenge form and structure. Be sure to check out the museum’s current exhibits and installations as you plan your visit.
After a three-year renovation, the Gallery’s East Building has added two sky-lit tower galleries, two staircases connecting all levels of the museum, a rooftop terrace with a dazzling blue rooster sculpture and more than 500 works of art, including pieces by Alexander Calder, Barbara Kruger, Jasper Johns, Pablo Picasso and Mark Rothko. The I.M. Pei-designed wing sleekly contrasts the Beaux Arts and Classical architecture throughout DC, making it a must-visit for those looking to have their mind blown by art.
Connecting the West and East Buildings is Leo Villareal’s incredible Multiverse installation. More than 41,000 LED nodes light up the 200-foot space, creating abstract configurations that literally light your way as you head from one building to the other via underground concourse.
Over in the West Building, another gorgeously designed pillar to modern art, you can experience works organized by period and national origin in spectacular and comprehensive galleries. The Sculpture Galleries have more than 900 pieces from the permanent collection, with the use of natural light helping to authentically illuminate works that go all the way back to the 12th century. The Nineteenth-Century French Galleries feature work by some of the most integral painters in history: Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin. Organized thematically, these paintings will impress any lover of art through their undeniable expertise and striking visuals.
The Gallery’s Sculpture Garden should also be a part of your visit. The 6.1-acre space, adjacent to the West Building, features beautiful trees, walking and seating areas and 17 sculptures taken from the Gallery’s collection. Among them: Robert Indiana’s famous AMOR, a play on the artist’s LOVE sculpture. The Garden also sports a fountain that serves as an ice rink from November – March, as well as The Pavilion Café, which offers year-round service and indoor seating.
The National Gallery of Art also hosts events throughout the year, including concerts, guided tours, gallery talks and much more. Check the museum’s calendar before you go.
Would you like to continue your exploration of DC museums? Read up on the Newseum next.