In the West Building of National Gallery of Art there are beautifully set up Garden Courts at the end of East and West Sculpture Gallery. The square green space with rows of classical columns on the two sides and a round fountain in the middle is covered by a semi-cylindrycal glass roof. Some people toss a coin into a fountain to come back again to this place someday.
Concerts are held in the West Garden Court almost on each Sunday at 6:30 p.m. They are free of charge. Admittance is on a first-come, first-seated basis, beginning at 6:00 p.m. Follow the link below to check up-to-date calendar of museum concerts.
The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is a nice outdoor museum where you can check the numerous sculptures but also a place where you can relax for a while and take advantage of the water on a hot day in between your busy tourist day. When I say water I mean the huge fountain in the middle of the garden, hopefully there are plenty of seating around so pick one and relax like we did.
As for the sculptures some are just ok, some are weird and some are really nice pieces of art, of course it depends if you like to see metal trees of huge spiders but I always find it interesting.
The café of the garden was full of people but we preferred to stay near the fountain.
The entrance is free and it is open Monday through Saturday 10.00-17.00, Sundays 11.00-18.00 while the café closes an hour earlier.
There are days where you can listen to jazz music and during winter you can do ice skate ($7 gets you 2 hours on the ice)!
The National Gallery of Art houses an impressive collection of world art, who can say no to paintings made by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet etc?
It opened in 1937, 4 years after Andrew W. Mellon donated his collection upon his death. The building is typical in The Mall in neoclassical style(pic 1) with ionic colums in front and some nice hallways (pic 2) while there are some nice halls and open spaces with fountains (pic 3) that will help to empty your thoughts for a while before you get overdosed by art :)
The museum isn’t small but as I get tired staying more than 3 hours in any museum I preferred to see specific sections and enjoy it more this way.
So, I skipped the medieval section and spent only a little time for Renaissance works but it is an interesting collection including Raphael, Botticelli even a portrait made by Leonardo da Vinci! Of course, the Impressionist gallery will cut your breath too with several top class paintings.
What I loved was those paintings from 15th and 16th century. My favorite ones are in the dutch sectione(you can see the first 2 at pics 4&5):
“Daniel in the Lions’ Den” oil on canvas 1616 by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish 1577-1640)
“Still Life with Swan and Game before a Country Estate” oil on canvas 1685 by Jan Weenix (Dutch, 1642-1719)
“The Dancing Couple” oil on canvas 1663 by Jan Steen (Dutch, 1626-1679)
“The Fall of Man” oil on canvas 1616 by Hendrik Goltziousn (Dutch, 1558-1617)
“Silvio with the Wounded Dorinda” oil on canvas 1651 by Louis Vallee (Dutch, 1653)
The museum isn’t part of the Smithsonian Institute but it’s for free too. It is open daily 10.00-17.30
While the National Gallery of Art is not part of the Smithsonian Institute, it is free despite being one of the largest and most impressive collections of art in not only the United States but the world. Thanks to the generous donation of Andrew W. Mellon's collection upon his death in 1937, Congress created the ambitious endeavor for the people of the United States. It opened in 1941 though an additional building was added in 1978 to help house the growing collection.
While it may not be the Louvre, this is no two hour walk through. In fact, two hours will be a very cursory visit through a small portion of the sprawling collection. If you have something you want to see, you might want to map out your trip or plan to spend an entire day to fully see even one building.
This was very high on our list of places to visit and we spent about four hours in a very well-planned exploration. It was one of the main things that had us wishing we had a week in town rather than four days!
It is almost impossible to take a vacation in Washington DC and not to visit a museum. Museums are practically a staple of the DC travel itinerary.
This is due to several factors, but Washington DC has a number of amazing museums that are practically destinations on their own.
The collection of the NGA filled with paintings by world famous artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, and Van Gogh.
The only portrait by Leonardo in America.is the portrait of a young Florentine noblewoman Ginevra de' Benci.
A 1905 masterpiece by Pablo Picasso, Garcon a la Pipe is famous for being one of the highest priced paintings ever sold ($104m ), became the world's most expensive painting.
In the collection you can find also my favourite Nr. 1., - Woman with a Parasol by Claude Monet.
The Gallery is one of the first major museums to go online. One can search the permanent collection by artist, title, subject, school, style, historical period, medium or any combination of these.
This was a wonderful relief to find in such heat when I was visiting. We ventured into the 6.1 acre garden and discovered it had all these wonderful sculptures to enjoy and plus it had this huge fountain to sit by and stick our feet in. Lots of wonderful plants and flowers to enjoy too!
During the winter months the fountain area in converted to a ice skating rink during November 15 thru March 15 weather permitting.
Regular hours are:
Mon - Thurs 10am - 5pm
Friday - Sat 10am - midnight
Sunday 11am - 9 Pm
Sculpture Garden Open
Mon - Sat 10am - 5pm
Sun 11am - 6pm
There are brocures by the gate with alot of wonderful imformation and tells you about each of the sculptures.
I already have a tip on the National Gallery but this deserves its own space. This is the only place in the U.S. where you can see a da Vinci painting, Ginevra de Benci, which is of oil on wood and is dated between 1474-78. Adding to its interest, both sides of the panel are painted. The back has a juniper wreath with the Latin words "Beauty Adorns Virtue". It is also unusual in that the background is an open landscape instead of an interior room, and it is a three quarter view, not a profile, which was the established norm of the day.
National Gallery of Art- East Building
Connected to the original building by an underground tunnel (which also contains a gift shop and cafeteria) the East Building was designed by famed architect I. M. Pei and mostly contains contemporary art, in contrast to the mostly older works found in the West building. However, at times temporary exhibits featuring non-modern art themes are housed here as well. The large open atrium in the center of the building allows for several large mobile-like pieces and the 'big' names in modern art are all represented: Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein, etc.
National Gallery of Art- West Building
The scope and quality of the art on display is mind-boggling. All of the greats are represented.
Even if you're not an art lover this gallery deserves at least a quick go-through.
If you are an art lover, plan on at least a full day to go through the different halls slowly and absorb what you're seeing.
P.S. You are allowed to take photos, even with flash. I've posted a couple of the more famous works of art on display.
Located in the 6.1-acre block adjacent to the West Building, the elegant yet informal Garden includes native American species of trees, flowering trees, shrubs, and perennials. There are 17 different sculptures scattered around the fountain, which serves as an ice rink in winter, in the center of the Garden, and walking and seating areas offer visitors a chance to rest and reflect on the works on view. The Pavilion Café is a good place to get a light meal or liquid refreshment.
The NGA, which opened in 1937, is home to great art, but the building itself is also worth a look. The exterior, like many buildings in DC is classical in style with Ionic columns adorning the front. Inside are expansive hallways with arches, domed ceilings, marble floors, statues and many flowers. The lower level includes a pretty wall of cascading water as you leave the west building on your way to the east side.
As might be expected in the nation's capitol, the National Gallery houses a large collection of American art. Artists represented include Homer, Whistler, Cassatt, Singelton Copley, Stuart and Bellows. One of my favorites is a Singleton Copley of rescuers aboard a rowboat trying to save a man from a shark attack. A famous portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart is also on display.