The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
The National Gallery of Art consists of the three parts located north of the Mall, along Constitution Ave, from the east:
- East Building
- West Building
- Sculpture Garden
Each part has seperate entrances, all are free for visitors.
I am not a dedicated fan of paintings and even more old paintings but my wife, Urszula is. Her passion to both old and contemporary art influences me and causes that, travelling together, we usually enrich our sightseeing with a visit to a local art gallery. In D.C. we started from the West Building which is a priceless treasure for fans of old paintings and displays 13th - 18th European and American paintings including famous paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Jan Van Eyck, Paul Rubens, Edouart Manet, Cloude Monet, Paul Cezanne, John Singleton Copley and others. Apart from that there are sculpture gallaries. I've seen impressive collection of sculptures by Auguste Rodin, some old decorative art, furniture and Chinese porcelain as well. The vast, impressive interiors with beautiul garden courts and few visitors made our over 1-hour visit very pleasant.
Fondest memory: My foundest memory refers to a small oil on canvas picture painted by Netherlandish Jan van Eyck c. 1434/1436. It's titled "Annuciation." I was sitting on a bench and hearing a guide who was talking and talking to 3 young people (students of art, I guess) all the time about this single picture, its history, paints, colours, perspective etc. etc. Then I heard a lively discussion of these people about the blue colour used by van Eyck in this picture. I was suprised how much one could know just about a single picture. Old painting may really be a passion for some people.
More details and pictures in my Things To Do tips # 139 - 155. Start here, please.
The East Buiding (open 1971) of the National Gallery of Art displays contemporary art, both painting, drawings, prints and sculptures including works of art of Spanish Pablo Picasso and 3 Americans: Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Alexander Calder, I remember well.
There are also special exhibitions of which I remember beautiful ceramics and other artworks on the exposition titled "Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum". The works will come back to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK as soon as the renovation works complete there. The monumental and modern architecture of the East Building may attract some visitors as well but it wasn't my favourite modern style.
In the end we paid a short visit to the Sculpture Garden (part of the same museum) when I paid attention to:
- sculpture by Spaniard Joan Miro whose interesting and large open-air artworks I remeber well both from Spain (Barcelona) and Paris, France (modern district La Defense). This sculpure in D.C. was not that impressive.
- composition of 30 bronze figures called Puellae (Girls) from 1992 by Polish born artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. I liked it.
Fondest memory: My "foundest" memory from this museum, apart from the works of art I've seen, is the fact that we, my wife and I, were not let in because Urszula had a plastic bottle of mineral water (a large one) in her backpack and the botle was opened that, as we were announced, was not allowed. The security guard shortly ordered us to get away and explained Urszula that she couldn't get in with this bottle and additionally nothing carried on a back was allowed in the museum. OK, we went to the next entrance, to the West Building of the same museum. Urszula carried her small backpack in hand and we were let in despite the bottle which wasn't any problem for the security guard that time. Then we drank the mineral water and came back to the East Building where the same security guard let us in with no problems.
Outside National Gallery there's a sculpture garden. Although the Gallery closes fairly early at around 5pm, the sculpture garden remains open till dark. In the summer, they sometimes have outdoor live concert.
I'm not too thrilled by the outdoor sculptures. These are mostly large scale, modern public art. The photo shows the pool at the center of the garden. In the background is the National Archive building.
Favorite thing: In DC's National Gallery you can find this famous sculpture, "Thinker", by Rodin. Since it's cast in bronze, mass production is possible. I've seen "Thinker" in DC, Philadelphia, and Paris. He's everywhere. Besides "Thinker", National Gallery also has a good number of other works from Rodin.
Washington, DC is one of my very favorite cities to visit. I still remember how I stood in awe the first time I visited. I vowed that I would return every year for my birthday from the time I hit 40. No dreary "I'm getting older" birthdays for me!! Since then I have made my annual trek with friends, my daughter, my mother, or by myself...and love it every single time. My birthday is in April...the BEST time to see the city in all its magnificence. Blossoms everywhere!! CHERRY BLOSSOMS! Magnolias, tulips, pansies, SPRING IS HERE!!
This pic was taken of a reflection in the glass structures between the National Gallery of Art and the East Wing.
It's no Chicago, but the architecture in DC can be fascinating. You'll see all sorts of styles, and all sorts of details. Just look around!
Fondest memory: This is a picture of the southwest corner of the East Wing of the National Gallery. The building peters out into a point here, and you can put your head up to it and look down both sides of the wall at once! Also, along the south side (your right in the photo) is a cool interactive sculpture. There are long rods coming up from the ground and when they move (either from the wind or being pushed/pulled) they sound different tones. It's like a giant windchime. And in the afternoon sun, they cast thin, wavering shadows on the wall. BTW, can you spot the moon in my picture?
The National Gallery of Art is located between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue, NW on the National Mall.
The museum houses one of the finest collections of painting, sculpture and graphic arts from the Middle Ages to the present.
Talks are given by Gallery staff and interns. they begin in the West Building Rotunda, at the East Building Art Information Desk or in the East Building Small Auditorium.
Hours relaxing in their gardens or in front of Monet...
The West Wing features a collection of international masterpieces from the 13th to the 19th century, while the East Wing houses a modern collection of 20th-century art.
Fondest memory: La Galeria Nacional de Arte. Horas relajandome en sus jardines y enfrente de Monet...
Favorite thing: The National Gallery comprises two worlds -- the neoclassical west building and the very modern east building. This is a view of the west from the east!