Washington, D.C. Travel Guide

Washington, D.C. Sights

National Gallery of Art, West Building

  • 4th St. and Constitution Ave. NW Map It
  • The Mall

Published 07/20/2015

Fodor's Review

The two buildings of the National Gallery hold one of the world's foremost art collections, with paintings, sculptures, and graphics that date from the 13th to the 21st centuries. In 2014, another 17,000 works of art were transferred into the NGA collection from the former Corcoran Gallery. Opened in 1941, the museum was a gift to the nation from treasury secretary Andrew W. Mellon. The rotunda, with marble columns surrounding a fountain, sets the stage for the masterpieces on display in more than 100 galleries.

Ginevra de' Benci, the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci on display in the Americas, is the centerpiece of the collection's comprehensive survey of Italian Renaissance paintings and sculpture.

Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer, masters of painting light, anchor the magnificent collection of Dutch and Flemish works.

The 19th-century French Galleries house gorgeous French impressionist masterworks by such superstars as Vincent van Gogh, Paul

Cézanne, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas.

Walk beneath flowering trees in the sculpture garden, on the Mall between 7th and 9th streets. Granite walkways take you through a shaded landscape and features works from the Gallery's growing collection, as well as loans for special exhibitions, including Roy Lichtenstein's playful House I, Miró's Personnage Gothique, Oiseau-Eclair, and the garden's newest addition, Marc Chagall's 10-panel Orphée, a 17-foot by 10-foot mosaic made of thousands of hand-cut colored glass and stone pieces.

There are many free docent-led tours every day, and a recorded tour of highlights of the collection is available free on the main floor adjacent to the rotunda. For a quick tour, pick up the laminated "What to See in One Hour," which pinpoints 12 must-see masterworks. The Information Room maintains a database of more than 1,700 works of art from the collection. Touch-screen monitors provide access to color images, text, animation, and sounds to help you better understand the works.

The gallery has a full calendar of events, including a summer "Jazz in the Garden" series, held Friday evenings in the sculpture garden.

Take a break at one of the museum's cafés, or at the sculpture garden's Pavilion Cafe, open year-round.

Events for children integrate the artwork; hands-on studio sessions and Teen Studio Saturdays, led by educators combine art instruction and experimentation. Some events require registration; check the website for details.

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Sight Information


4th St. and Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, District of Columbia, 20565, USA

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Website: www.nga.gov

Sight Details:

  • Free

Published 07/20/2015


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