Categories: Washington DC

National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum : Washington DC

Washington DC has some superb museums to keep you busy. Some serve as obvious musts for incoming tourists and some are perhaps a bit more off the usual itineraries and are located a bit further away from the central Washington DC Mall.

 

Since I was naturally drawn to Washington's Chinatown area, not too far away are two important American institutions that are part of Washington DC's impressive museum collection and national heritage that are definitely worth visiting, even if you're not American – the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

 

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(Photo above is of one of the exhibits in the American Art Museum)

 

Let's start from the American Art Museum.

Their official website writes :

The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the nation's first collection of American art, is an unparalleled record of the American experience. The collection captures the aspirations, character and imagination of the American people throughout three centuries. The museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal key aspects of America's rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. More than 7,000 artists are represented in the collection, including major masters, such as John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Helen Frankenthaler, Christo, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Lee Friedlander, Roy Lichtenstein, Nam June Paik, Martin Puryear, and Robert Rauschenberg.

 

Not much that I can offer beyond that of showing you some of the exhibits there…

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What's to see at the National Portrait Gallery?

Here's from the museum website's self-promotion:

Generations of remarkable Americans are kept in the company of their fellow citizens at the National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery presents the wonderful diversity of individuals who have left—and are leaving—their mark on our country and our culture. Through the visual and performing arts, we celebrate leaders such as George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr., artists such as Mary Cassatt and George Gershwin, activists such as Sequoyah and Rosa Parks, and icons of pop culture such as Babe Ruth and Marilyn Monroe. They all link us to our past, our present, and our future. For anyone fascinated by famous Americans and their stories, the National Portrait Gallery is a must–visit destination.

 

Indeed, they're all there, some more famous than others for my limited non-American knowledge of American historical figures. But, still, it was fun walking around and reading the descriptions of the portraits.

 

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The building is as impressive as you could expect from a national museum in DC. Very well laid out, very spacious and tall, and an intriguing combination of modern and colonial designs.

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So much to see in that city, and all so very well done. Truly jealous of the Washingtonians.

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