Results 1-10of 18 Reviews
February 25, 2009
From journal The Great Indoors
London, United Kingdom
April 6, 2008
At the time of its completion, the West Building was the largest marble structure in the world and even from the outside it towers above its subjects, impressing in the same way that London’s British Museum does.
Feeling a little intimidated by the size of the gallery, we picked up a very handy leaflet that identifies West Building highlights that can be covered in under an hour. Normally I wouldn’t want to rush through such a spectacular collection but we still had the East Building to consider and wanted to squeeze in a visit to the National Air and Space Museum across the way before closing time at 5.30pm.
The leaflet highlighted twelve must-see works, including pieces by da Vinci, Raphael, Rubens, Vermeer, Monet and Cezanne. Audio tours are available for $5 and guided tours run throughout the day focussing on particular collections.
Opened 37 years later in 1978, the East Building is home to the gallery’s modern art and sculpture collections. Here you can find permanent installations of work by Henri Matisse, Alexander Calder and Sol LeWitt. Connecting the two buildings is a cavernous underground concourse level where the busy gallery café and bookshop are located.
The East Building has an obvious modern and brighter feel to it and is also quite a bit busier than the West side. The temporary Edward Hopper exhibition was clearly a big draw and the queue to get in was particularly long. It’s worth checking ahead of time on permanent and temporary exhibitions as some of them have limited opening times or may require passes.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you check in your bag in the West Building as we did, it’s quite a long walk back to retrieve it after visiting the East Building. If you only want to do a similar "Highlights" tour you still need about a minimum of two hours to visit both buildings. If you have more time though, it would be easy to dedicate an entire day to the National Gallery and adjacent Sculpture Garden.
From journal The Two-Day Tourist in Washington DC
February 10, 2008
From journal Weekend at the National Gallery of Art
W St Paul, Minnesota
August 12, 2007
Surrounded by so much history, the Art Gallery wasn't high on my place to see. My wife had this high on her list, so off we went. Well, I was wrong. We planned this for our afternoon viewing, to avoid the heat. I could spend a week here and still not see it all.
There is a guide at the information desk which lists the must-see art in the building, from the DaVinci to Picasso. For someone with a limited amount of time, this could be great. We were dealing with this in a more leisurely manner, so the people running in, stopping in front of a picture just long enough to take a picture on the digital camera and then running out were a bit of a distraction. But there is so much great art here that we quickly realized that we couldn't see the pieces on the must list. We were just taking too long with all the other art to make it to all of them. Once we came to this realization, about an hour into our visit here, we decide to just see French Impressionists, since that is my favorite. We still didn't get through everything. I briefly lost my wife when I got stopped by Mary Cassat's "Girl in a Blue Chair". I've seen pictures of this painting, but seeing the brush strokes and the detail in the painting just froze me for a good long time.
I didn't know that I could spend a whole visit to Washington here, but I know I will plan for more time here in our next visit. Our visit only scratched the surface of what is here. We have a plate with a Picasso on it that my wife bought in the gift shop to remind us both of how great this was.
From journal Washington in the Heat
February 5, 2006
From journal Non-Smithsonian Museums Around DC
by Taylor Shelby
Charleston, South Carolina
December 13, 2005
On a last-minute whim, only 2 hours before we were going to leave for the airport, I decided that I wanted to see the National Gallery of Art. It was my intention just to breeze in for a bit and then go to the museum shop to pick up some gifts. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I am not an art lover. I can appreciate the beauty and incredible talent and I do enjoy looking at art in small doses, but I lose interest in art museums rapidly. That’s why I only thought I needed a small bit of time. I WAS SO WRONG!
Next time I go back to D.C., I will devote an entire day to this museum. It is massive and beautiful and I was completely captivated. The museum is actually divided into three sections, the sculpture garden, the West building, and the East building. The East building is devoted to modern art, but everything else is located in the West building, which is the one I saw. In this museum they have everything, from 13th-century illuminated manuscripts to architectural sculptures of Charles Rennie McKintosh, a 20th-century Scottish architect. I, however, only saw a very small portion of the museum.
When I walked in, I saw a sign that said photography was allowed. Yes, you read that right, photography is allowed. I have an affinity for the study of 18th-century clothing and accessories, so I immediately made a bee line for the 18th-century galleries. Here I proceeded to rush through and take a picture of every portrait that dated from the last half of the 18th century. It was a good thing I had extra batteries. I didn’t even have time to stop and look at anything else, except when I wandered into 19th-century French gallery and came face to face with one of my all-time favorite pictures, Woman with a Parasol by Claude Monet, of which I promptly took a picture and moved on.
After I totally and completely used up the memory on my huge memory card, I decided that I would head down to the museum shop. I figured it would be somewhat small, like the other shops I saw in the Smithsonian Museums, but I was wrong again! It was the best museum shop I have ever seen in my life: huge, well laid out, and full of beautiful, well priced treasures. I love to collect postcards, so I immediately bought quite a few of those for $0.50 each. They also had a massive selection of notecard sets that ranged from $9.95 to $11.95 for sets of 8 or 10. My favorite find was a mounted copy of Monet’s Woman with a Parasol for only $11.95, so now I can look at it to my heart’s content.
Even if you don’t care about art, stop in here and see some masterpieces. Then go shopping. It is totally worth it.
From journal Four exhausted girls spend a weekend in DC
June 30, 2005
From journal An Eight-Day Vacation in Washington, D.C.