Like the Smithsonian Institution museums you’ll find on the Washington Mall, the National Gallery of Art offers free admission policy for all visitors, though it isn’t part of the Smithsonian. The museum began as a collection for the people of the United States, by a joint resolution of Congress in 1937, accepting the gifts of collector Andrew Mellon. The museum’s expansive collection of Western sculpture and painting has grown considerably since then, to include an impressive Italian Renaissance collection and Western sculpture, featuring Botticelli, Bellini, Degas, Leonardo, Raphael, Rodin, Titian, and Vermeer.
The museum consists of two buildings connected underground by a spacious passageway. The original West Building was designed by John Russell Pope, the designer of the Jefferson Memorial. The East building, designed by I.M. Pei, was opened in 1978. Inside the neo-classical West Building and the more modern East building, you’ll find a grand collection of European and American paintings, sculpture, photographs, and decorative arts.
The buildings are complemented by the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, which provides an outdoor setting for exhibiting select sculptures from the collection. It is also the site of the popular ice-skating rink in the winter months (mid-November to mid-March, $7 adults/two-hour session).
National Gallery Of Art Information
- Public Transportation: Excellent (convenient to multiple Metro stops and buses)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Hours: Monday–Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
- Admission: Free
- Tours: The museum offers ongoing Gallery Talks of the touring exhibitions and permanent collection
- Audio Tours: $5.