National Gallery of Art Washington DC.
History, Highlights, Permanent Collection, Exhibitions.

Girl With the Red Hat (1665-6)
By Jan Vermeer, the greatest
Dutch genre painter.

National Gallery of Art


Permanent Collection
American Artists

Along with the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the National Gallery of Art Washington DC is one of the world's best art museums, with a world-famous collection of painting, sculpture, installations, graphic art, prints, photographs, ceramics and other pieces of decorative art.

The Human Condition (1933)
By Rene Magritte. One of the
most famous examples of
Surrealist painting.

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Phillips Collection
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Frick Collection
Guggenheim, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Whitney Museum of American Art
Barnes Foundation
Carnegie Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
J Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles


The National Gallery of Art Washington DC was founded in 1937 using funds and a large collection of fine art gifted by financier and art collector Andrew W. Mellon. The latter formed the initial core of the collection, which has since been considerably expanded via donations from Samuel H. Kress, Rush H. Kress, Joseph Widener, Chester Dale, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, Lessing J. Rosenwald, and Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, to name but a few.

Museum Highlights

The top highlight of the National Gallery of Art's collection is its assembly of Italian Renaissance art, including Ginevra de' Benci by Leonardo da Vinci, as well as works by Duccio di Buoninsegna, Fra Angelico, Fillipo Lippi, Botticelli, Giorgione, Bellini, Titian and Raphael.

Art Institute of Chicago
Detroit Institute of Arts
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Museum of Fine Arts Houston

See: Art Museums in Europe.

The greatest Northern Renaissance artists in the collection include Van der Weyden, Mathis Grunewald, Albrecht Durer, Frans Snyders, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Vermeer, while French and Spanish painting is exemplified by Ingres, Eugene Delacroix, Velazquez, El Greco, Zurbaran and Goya, among others. All painting genres are covered, and the collection includes some of the finest history-paintings, portraits, landscapes, genre-pictures and still lifes in the history of art.

For more information, see:
History of Art

For a list of the finest works of
painting and sculpture, by the
world's most famous artists, see:
Greatest Paintings Ever
Oils, watercolours, mixed media
from 1300-present.
Greatest Sculptures Ever
Works in stone, bronze, wood
from 33,000 BCE-present.

For details of the world's most
highly priced works of art, see:
Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings

For details of any important
art shows being staged at the
National Gallery Washington DC,
see: Art News Headlines.

For the best fine arts & design
colleges in DC, please see:
Washington DC Art Schools.
For universities and institutes
of fine arts across America, see:
Best Art Schools.

Before visiting the National
Gallery of Art, Washington DC, see
Art Evaluation: How to Appreciate Art.


The National Gallery of Art includes two buildings, the West Building and the East Building, connected by an underground passageway. The neoclassical-style West Building, designed by architect John Russell Pope, has a huge dome reminiscent of the Pantheon in Paris. Funded by the Mellon family, the Gallery's East Building was opened in 1978. The structure, designed by architect I.M. Pei, is contrastingly modern - a series of geometrical, interlocking prisms. (See also: American Architecture 1600-present.) The East Building is home to the Gallery's growing collections of art, an advanced research center, library, administrative offices, and a growing collection of drawings and prints. The most recent addition to the National Gallery complex is the 6-acre outdoor sculpture garden, opened in May 1999. Donated by the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, it is located next to the West Building at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., the garden provides an informal, yet elegant setting for works of modern and contemporary sculpture.


Permanent Collection

In line with its status as one of the best art museums in America, the National Gallery of Art owns one of the greatest collections in the world, featuring 2,000 works of sculpture, installation art, painting, works on paper, prints, fine art photography, porcelains and other decorative art.

West Building

The overall collection of the National Gallery of Art is divided as follows: in the West Building there is a wide collection of paintings and sculptures by European Old Masters, such as Woman Holding a Balance (1662-63) and Girl in a Red Hat (1666) by Jan Vermeer. In addition, the West Building houses the gallery's collection of 19th-century European masterpieces, such as works by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh, and pre-20th century works of American art.

East Building

In contrast, the East Building is concerned with modern and contemporary art. It features works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Rene Magritte (1898-1967), Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986), Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Alexander Calder.

See also our article: How To Appreciate Paintings.

Sculpture Garden

Exhibits in the landscaped Sculpture Garden include 17 major sculptures by artists like Joan Miro (1893-1983), Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), Mark di Suvero (b.1933), Claes Oldenburg (b.1929), and Tony Smith (1912-80). In addition the museum has a wonderful collection of sculpture by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) and Edgar Degas (1834-1917).

Collection of American Art

The collection of American art includes works by the great 18th century history painter John Singleton Copley; the Francophile Mary Cassatt, a leading figure in the American Impressionism movement; the portraitist Gilbert Stuart; the painter of the cowboy west Frederic Remington; the wonderful 19th century realists Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins; the post-Impressionist Whistler; the virtuoso society portrait painter John Singer Sargent; the Pop-Artists Jasper Johns, Edward Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein; co-inventors of "Action-Painting" Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner; and the Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko, to name but a few. (See also Ashcan School.)

Cost of Admission

Entry to the National Gallery of Art is free of charge.

Opening Hours

Monday-Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sundays: 11am-6pm.

Further Information

National Gallery of Art Washington DC
7th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC
(202) 737-4215

• For more information about the world's greatest art museums, see: Homepage.

Art Types
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