Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
I See Red: Target
In 2020, the National Gallery of Art acquired I See Red: Target by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (born 1940), the first painting by a Native American artist to enter the collection. Smith, an enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation in Montana, is one of the most highly respected artists of the past 40 years. An impressive 11-foot-tall mixed-media work on canvas, I See Red: Target addresses both local and national conversations around the commercial branding of Indigenous American identity through Smith’s deftly layered assemblage of printed ephemera and painterly touches. The acquisition was made possible by Mitchell and Emily Rales.
Still Life with a Hanging Bunch of Grapes, Two Medlars, and a Butterfly
The still-life paintings by Adriaen Coorte (active c. 1683–1707) are among the most mysterious and compelling works of art produced in the Netherlands during the 17th century. Thanks to the generosity of The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund, the National Gallery was able to acquire Still Life with a Hanging Bunch of Grapes, Two Medlars, and a Butterfly, a particularly striking work by the artist and one of only three known compositions in which the dominant element is suspended in midair before a dark background. This is the second painting by Coorte to enter the nation’s art collection.
Degas at the Opéra
Dedicated to Edgar Degas’s fascination with the opéra—its spaces, the music, and the people involved with the thriving theatrical life of 19th-century Paris—Degas at the Opéra was open for fewer than two weeks before the National Gallery of Art closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum adjusted to the unexpected closure by creating a dynamic virtual exhibition tour available to the public online. When the West Building partially reopened in July 2020, the exhibition opened to the public once more, drawing many delighted and grateful visitors during its extended run.
Katharina Fritsch's Hahn/Cock
A beloved addition to the East Building’s Roof Terrace since it opened in 2016, Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock was illuminated in honor of the resilience of the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The work was bathed in blue light in April 2020, along with the West Building facade and crystals in the 4th Street Plaza, as part of the #LightItBlue campaign to honor the dedication and effort of essential workers, including the National Gallery's own security and facilities staff.
Service During Crisis
During the coronavirus crisis, the dedicated employees of the National Gallery of Art continued to maintain and protect the facilities and collections. Security, facilities, horticulture, and art care staff were on site each day to ensure that the National Gallery’s buildings, collections, and grounds were safe and well cared for.
Sculpture Garden Reopening
The National Gallery of Art closed to the public in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the summer, with enhanced health and safety measures in place, the Sculpture Garden was the first space to reopen on the National Mall, followed by the Ground Floor of the West Building.
West Building Reopening
New visitor guidelines and free, timed entry passes ensured a safe experience for members of the public as they returned to the partially reopened Ground Floor galleries of the West Building. Two special exhibitions that were open at the time of the National Gallery’s March closure, Degas at the Opéra and True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870, reopened with extended dates.
Massive Open Online Course
Since launching in early 2019, the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Teaching Critical Thinking through Art has reached over 19,000 participants from across the nation and around the world. Featuring a variety of demonstration videos and interactive tools, this five-unit course prepares teachers to incorporate works of art into classroom practices with Artful Thinking routines—critical thinking strategies developed by Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Summer Institute for Educators
Piloted in an online format in 2020, the 31st Summer Institute for Educators more than doubled in size, facilitating 163 teachers from 17 countries worldwide and helping to expand access to the National Gallery’s world-class educational resources during a time when teaching routines were upended. The Summer Institute centered around the theme Art and Thinking and offered relevant content about critical thinking, teaching virtually, diversity, and social-emotional learning through art. Since its inaugural session in 1989, the National Gallery has offered this program annually, fostering meaningful connections between teachers, students, and the museum’s collection.
East Building Skylights
The Master Facilities Plan (MFP) is a long-term program of federally funded capital improvements developed to renew the useful life of the National Gallery’s buildings and engineered systems. This year, progress continued on Work Area 9.3, the final phase of renovation in the East Building public spaces. One major component of this project is the replacement of the East Building atrium skylights, which have not been renovated since the building opened in 1978. The complete replacement of all 25 glass tetrahedrons and the aluminum frames will correct long-standing problems with deterioration of the insulated glass units and provide improved energy efficiency.