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Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.: Art Museums

Most people associate our nation’s capital with great marbled statehouses, bustling politicians, and rich American history. It is brimming with one-of-a-kind statues, monuments and sculptures paying tribute to our founding forefathers and national heritage. This historical perspective is woven throughout the people, landscape and architecture of D.C. The city itself feels like a carefully planned piece of art, which is quickly evident by taking a simple walking tour.

Washington D.C. is home to the National Gallery of Art as well as the famous Smithsonian museums, all of which provide patrons with an unprecedented collection of artifacts, Americana, and priceless art. One of the best little-known facts about these museums is that they are free to the public! They are located along the National Mall, a large swathe of land connecting many major historical buildings such as the Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol building, and White House by way of an enormous pedestrian thoroughfare.

In addition to having a strong patriotic pull, Washington D.C. is a city inspired by many international flavors and persuasions. This has established D.C. as a hotbed of culture, including a flourishing arts scene. There are many exciting lesser-known art galleries in and around the DC area which highlight the city’s strong international cultural appeal.

This blog will explore the wealth of art along the beaten and not-so-beaten pathways unique to the DC area. Whether you’re a history buff, political enthusiast, tourist, or simply an art aficionado, Washington D.C. has a wide range of galleries and museum showings that will surely instill a sense of pride in these distinctive national treasures.(Chad Hemmert)

Washington DC Art Museums: Art Museums Around Washington DC

Below are our Washington DC Art Museum recommendations, with information on location, admission, transportation/parking, museum history and other points of interest in Washington DC Art.

Corcoran Gallery Of Art, College Of Art and Design

The gallery is one of the most esteemed repositories of American art in the U.S. In addition to its extensive collection of American art from the 18th through the 20th centuries, it also collects European art, and has recently made efforts to expand its collection of modern and contemporary European and American art.

Recent acquisitions have included James Renwick Brevoort’s Half Moon …more…

Dumbarton Oaks

This museum is located in a Federal-style house purchased in 1920 by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss. Its collections stem from the family’s holdings, and include objects of Pre-Columbian art, Byzantine art, European masterworks, and rare and modern books. The holdings also include Byzantine jewelry, Pre-Columbian sculptures from Mesoamerica and the Andes, a 1929 Steinway grand piano signed by …more…

Freer & Sackler Galleries (Smithsonian Institution)

The Freer and Sackler Galleries, connected underground, are the Smithsonian Institution’s two museums of Asian art.  They feature an extensive and exquisite collection of bronzes, jades, sculptures, ceramics, and glass from Japan, China, India, Iran, Syria, and other places in Asia and Asia Minor. Early Christian art and the largest collection of James Whistler paintings also make up an important part …more…

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens

This institution is one of the world’s most comprehensive collectors of 18th and 19th century Russian imperial art outside Russia. Today, the collection numbers more than 16,000 objects, and continues to grow. Along with a strong collection of Faberge items, the museum’s holdings include a diamond crown worn by Empress Alexandra at her marriage to Nicholas II, Francois Boucher’s Beauvais tapestries, William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s La Nuit, and a collection of costumes …more…

Hirshhorn and Sculpture Garden (Smithsonian Institution)

Here you’ll see modern American and European sculpture by Moore, Rodin, and Picasso, plus gyrating mobiles by Alexander Calder and paintings by 20th-century American artists, all in a doughnut-shaped building. Outside is a sculpture garden, which includes works by Auguste Rodin and Alexander Calder. ...more...

Kreeger Museum

In 1959, Mr. and Mrs. David and Carmen Kreeger began to build their modern art collection. Over the next 15 years, their collection would become the core of their museum. The institution opened to the public in 1994. Along with being a showcase for modern art, it also combines the Kreeger’s loves of music and architecture.

The works in the permanent collection …more…

National Gallery Of Art

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 …more…

National Museum of African Art (Smithsonian institution)

This collection of African art concentrates on art from south of the Sahara, with the earliest dating before 1700 B.C.E. A high point of the NMAA’s holdings is the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, a collection of more than 300,000 photographs documenting Africa’s peoples, history and art over the span of the last 120-plus years. Much of the exhibition space is underground. ...more...

National Museum of Women in the Arts

For more than two decades, museum founders Wilhelmina Cole Holladay and Wallace F. Holladay devoted themselves to collecting works by women artists. This institution, which opened in 1981, showcases their collection and even more art by women. By 1987, it had secured a permanent, 78,810-square-foot space in a refurbished Masonic Temple near the White House.

The art dates from the 16th …more…

Phillips Collection

For a great museum that’s off the beaten path of Washington, D.C.’s mall, look no further than the Phillips Collection, the oldest museum of modern art in the U.S. (opened in 1921).

Housed in founder Duncan Phillips’s 1897 home in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, the setting is intimate; the venue is outstanding for viewing the American and European impressionist and modern …more…

Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM)

This museum’s aim is monumental: to provide a full record of the American experience over 300 years. It is known for its pioneering collections of art dating from the New Deal period, contemporary craft, folk art, and art from the Gilded Age.

Collecting began in 1829 by John Varden, who eventually declared himself the institution’s first curator. But the collection experience fits …more…