The East Building houses the National Gallery’s growing collection of modern and contemporary art.
A just-completed renovation adds 12,250 square feet of new exhibition space within the existing footprint of the building, including two soaring tower galleries and a rooftop terrace for outdoor sculpture that overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue. The number of works on view from the collection has increased from 350 to 500.
In the galleries, a reimagined installation of the collection integrates new acquisitions from the Corcoran Collection and recent gifts from the Collectors Committee, Virginia Dwan, Agnes Gund, the Hakuta Family, the Al Held Foundation, the Patrons’ Permanent Fund, Arnold and Joan Saltzman, Victoria and Roger Sant, Deborah and Ed Shein, as well as artists Glenn Ligon, Jenny Holzer, David Novros, Kenneth Snelson, and others. The inclusion of photography, works on paper, and time-based media art in addition to painting and sculpture tells a more expansive story of modern art. Chronological, stylistic, and thematic arrangements provide new and thought-provoking juxtapositions. Also new are two staircases and an elevator that permit easier access to all levels of the building.
History of the East Building
Planning for the East Building began in 1968 — on a site set aside by founder Andrew W. Mellon in the 1930s for the National Gallery’s future expansion. The cultural significance of modern art was on the rise, and the National Gallery had begun to acquire works by living artists. Today, modern and contemporary art offers a unique conduit for reflection on shifts in art and society and on our place in the world. The experience is made richer by proximity to a historical collection dating back to the twelfth century that is displayed in the West Building.
The year 2016 also marks the 75th anniversary of the National Gallery of Art. We are pleased to celebrate the renovation and reinstallation of the East Building and to invite you to make your own connections to the works on view.