National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art on the National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets on Constitution Avenue, N.W., was established in 1937. The chosen location of the Gallery happens to be the site of the old Sixth Street Railway Station where President Garfield was shot. Andrew Mellon contributed funds and the majority of the art work for the initial collections in the Gallery, and other contributions were made by Lessing J. Rosenwald, Samuel Kress, and Joseph E. Widener. Designed by architect John Russell Pope, the West Wing of the marble building was completed and accepted on March 17, 1941 by FDR.

The Gallery complex consists of two separate buildings, the East Wing and the West Wing, linked by an underground passage. Each building is unique in its design, the West Wing resembles the classic architecture of the Pantheon, and the East Wing presents a more modern faceted design by I.M. Pei. The East Wing opened in 1978 under President Carter, and includes modern art, sculptures, and the large research Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. Sculpture halls, marked by marble urns crafted by Clodion, extend from the central rotunda. The architecture within each of the numerous galleries is designed to reflect the time period of the artwork it displays.

The Gallery houses extensive collections of art including American, Italian, British, Flemish, French, Dutch, and Spanish artists from the 16th century to the present. Extensive collections in the West Wing feature the great European masters from medieval times through the 19th century such as Monet, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and da Vinci, as well as a few American artists from the pre-20th century. The East Wing houses more contemporary art in works by Matisse, Picasso, Pollock, Warhol, and Calder. The Gallery also features collections of French and Italian furniture, ceramics, Brussels tapestries, and tin-glazed earthenware, or maiolica. In addition, there are religious vessels from the medieval period such as the onyx chalice used by Abbott Suger in the 12th century, and over 2,000 objects and gifts from the Widener family including Chinese porcelains from the Qing dynasty.

Six rooms of artwork by Claude Lorrain, the French landscape painter of the 17th century, are on display through August 2007. These 80 paintings and etchings feature separate themes including nature, the countryside, shipwrecks, and biblical and mythological subjects. Rembrandt’s famous painting of his son Titus will be on display in the West Wing through September of this year. The Gallery is also exhibiting panoramas depicting mythological journeys to distant places, and a collection of 100 paintings representing 85 famous international artists from the 16th — 20th century. The Collections Committee of the Gallery recently acquired Alfred Jensen’s Twelve Events in a Dual Universe, and Robert Morris’ Untitled felt wall hanging. Visitors can view photographs and etchings by Scully, a panorama exhibit by Sam Taylor-Wood, and silver prints from Ana Mendietta’s silhouette series of carvings. A special attraction, now on display at the Gallery, is the restored terracotta bust of Lorenzo de’ Medici by an Italian renaissance artist. In 2007, the East Wing of the Gallery will feature 40 paintings by Eugene Boudin, and 63 works in lead, lithography, etchings, and screen prints created by Jasper Johns from 1960 – 1982. The artist has focused on six very ordinary things: Ale Cans, Paint Brushes, Flag, Light Bulb, Flashlight, and 0 through 9.

Visitors may enjoy the six-acre Sculpture Garden, across 7th Street, west of the West Wing, which is easily accessible through six separate entrances. Enclosed by a metal fence, the Garden has a central fountain that becomes an ice rink in the winter, beautifully landscaped grounds, marble benches, and numerous sculptures including ones by Joan Miro, Hector Guimard, Mark di Suvero, Sol LeWitt, Alexander Calder, and Louise Bourgeois

The Gallery is an affiliate, not an actual part of the Smithsonian Institute, and although the Federal Government appropriates funds for its operation and maintenance, the collections and special events are privately donated. Tours, interpretive lectures and programs in several different languages, and children’s films are offered to visitors several times a day. Chamber music, piano, vocalist, and other musical concerts are sponsored at the Gallery each year. Jazz in the Garden is a popular summer evening event every Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. These free concerts are held outdoors through August in front of the Pavilion Café, next to the reflecting pool and fountain.

Gallery Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Closed Christmas and New Years Day. Ph: 202-737-4215
Admission is free.
Sculpture Garden: Monday — Thursday, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Dining: East Building — Cascade Café, Espresso & Gelato Bar; West Building — Garden Café; Sculpture Garden — Pavilion Café.
Bookstore, gift shop, and children’s shop on premises.
Handicap accessible. Online exhibits at the National Gallery website.

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