Our family loves to get out and explore new things. We enjoy hiking to waterfalls, going on adventures in new cities, going to food festivals and even exploring art museums. On our recent trip to Washington DC, we took a few minutes and went to the National Gallery of Art. We didn’t have long for our tour, but we knew there were a few exhibits that we had to see!
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National Gallery of Art Highlights
We love finding real life art pieces on exhibit that we have seen in popular movies, but unfortunately, Hollywood often takes creative liberties and doesn’t follow real life. Here’s an example: If you have seen Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, then you probably remember the classic scene where the main characters Larry and Amelia are in the Smithsonian talking to the bronze sculpture, The Thinker.
Turns out that Hollywood got this wrong. The Thinker is actually on display at the National Gallery of Art which is not even part of the Smithsonian Museums. It is privately funded and its own separate entity.
But we did find the Thinker! (Rodin)
We had the opportunity to talk to some of the museum staff and get background and stories about their favorite pieces and exhibits. These staff personnel took their time to share stories and give us direction to help us find the highlights of the museum.
Real life tip: When you are visiting a museum, don’t ignore the museum staff. These people know the museum and will often have unique perspectives about their favorite pieces that you just don’t get from a brochure!
If we hadn’t talked to the museum staff, we would have missed the story of the real human hair in the Degas statue.
Edgar Degas, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1878–1881, pigmented beeswax, clay, metal armature, rope, paintbrushes, human hair, silk and linen ribbon, cotton and silk tutu, linen slippers, on wooden base.
The National Gallery of Art is an impressive architectural building. Take your time as you tour the galleries so you can enjoy the wide range of exhibits.
Of course, we couldn’t leave the museum without taking the time to appreciate the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the US. Unfortunately for us, there was another lady who couldn’t seem to get enough of the painting either. Do everyone around you a favor. When you are touring a museum, don’t forget the people around you. We waited for several minutes and this lady never budged. Oh well… at least we will never forget the experience.
Leonardo da Vinci painted this portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci, a young Florentine noblewoman who, at the age of sixteen, married Luigi Niccolini in 1474. On the reverse side of the painting, a wreath of laurel and palm encircles a sprig of juniper and a scroll bears the Latin inscription, “Beauty Adorns Virtue.”
Visitors may sketch in the galleries at any time with pencils and other dry media but a permit is required for artists who wish to participate in the copyist program.
Find the National Gallery of Art
Located between 3rd and 9th Streets along Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001
The National Gallery of Art is free to all visitors and is open seven days a week.
Heading to Washington DC for vacation? Check out this free walking tour of the Monuments and Memorials.