National Gallery of Art

This article is about the National Gallery of the United States, for other National Galleries, see National Gallery
The East Building of the National Gallery of Art
The East Building of the National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art is an art museum owned and managed by the government of the United States. It is comprised of two buildings, the East Building and the West Building, linked by an underground passage and both located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The NGA is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, though it is governed under a separate charter.

The NGA was created by Congress in 1937, with funds for construction and a substantial art collection donated by Andrew W. Mellon. Samuel H. Kress contributed the museum's original collection of Italian art. The original museum building, now known as the West Building, opened on March 17, 1941. Its design by architect John Russell Pope is neo-classical, with a gigantic columned portico and a massive dome reminiscent of the Pantheon (as is Pope's other notable Washington creation, the Jefferson Memorial), except for the West Building's symmetrically attached, extended wings. The design of the East Building by noted architect I.M. Pei is also geometrical, but fragmented or faceted by comparison to the West Building's cool classicism; from above, it appears as if made of interlocking diamonds. The East Building opened in 1978. The NGA also opened an adjacent sculpture garden in 1999. As a federally-owned museum, entry to both buildings of the National Gallery is free of charge.

Missing image
The West Building of the National Gallery of Art.

The West Building has an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures by European masters from the medieval period through the late 19th century, as well as pre-20th century works by American artists. Highlights of the collection include many paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, and the only painting by Leonardo Da Vinci within the United States.

The East Building focuses on modern and contemporary art, with a collection including works by Picasso, Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Alexander Calder. The East Building also contains the main offices of the NGA and a large research facility.

Missing image
Comparing the two buildings from above; USGS satellite image of the West and East Buildings of the National Gallery of Art, taken April 26, 2002. Please note that the perspective has been distorted due to the imaging process.

External links

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