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    A man and a woman looking at a painting in the West Building of the National Gallery.  The woman is pointing at the painting.

    President’s Foreword

    2021 Annual Report

    Mitchell P. Rales, President

    The National Gallery of Art renewed its mission this fiscal year with a steady focus on enriching lives by welcoming all people to explore and experience art, creativity, and our shared humanity. This call to action expresses our vision to be of the nation and for all the people, a promise rooted in the founding of this museum as a gift to the nation. With this vision and reinvigorated mission, we introduced a bright and energetic brand identity for the National Gallery that is more than simply a refreshed logo or color palette. It is a visual manifestation of our joyful service to the nation and our commitment to a vibrant future. 

    With each successive generation, the nation’s art collection has grown and evolved thanks to the generosity of private citizens and through the strength of the museum’s longstanding public-private partnership. As we steward this institution in its eighth decade, our firm belief that the cultural inheritance of the nation belongs to everyone connects us back to the founding benefactors and forward to the future caretakers of this great institution. This insight informs the decisions that the trustees and staff make every day. 

    Sustaining this singular institution is a unique agreement between the federal government and the private sector, with Congress funding the operations and maintenance essential to the health of the museum and private citizens providing support for a panoply of vital activities. Thanks to these dedicated members and donors, the National Gallery will continue to serve the nation by collecting and presenting art that diversifies the stories we tell and the ways in which we tell them, preserving works of art for successive generations, producing world-class scholarship, and providing meaningful experiences that spark curiosity and deepen connections with audiences both onsite and online. The trustees and staff join me in expressing our deep gratitude to the President and the Congress of the United States for their resolute commitment to the National Gallery of Art, and to our loyal donors nationwide who sustain our mission of service. I am grateful for the steadfast support and sage counsel of my fellow trustees, who approach their work with empathy, integrity, and joy. The trustees join me in thanking the members of the Trustees’ Council for their leadership and support, as well as our patrons at every level, whose support and commitment is critical. 

    Less than two months into this fiscal year, the museum closed to the public in response to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Three months later, in February 2021, the Sculpture Garden reopened in accordance with visitor capacity limits and safety protocols, followed by parts of the West and East Buildings. I commend Director Kaywin Feldman and the staff for using what they learned during the previous pandemic closures to respond quickly, shifting to a maximum telework posture and expanding the National Gallery’s digital offerings. The story of online audiences told by the numbers is promising. Website traffic increased more than 36 percent since fiscal year 2019, exceeding 7.6 million visits in fiscal year 2021. During the same period, social media engagement continued to trend upward, increasing by nearly 13 percent. There is potential to be tapped in seeking to extend the institution’s reach to audiences across the nation, providing meaningful and memorable digital experiences. The trustees and I, along with Kaywin and the staff, are committed to reflecting and serving the nation in all its diversity and extending the National Gallery’s educational resources to wider audiences, while continuing to operate a sustainable and equitable institution.  


    Mitchell P. Rales