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A large gallery stands empty with a large doorway in the center surrounded by paintings

What is Essential?

This is a moment unlike any other in modern history. Around the world, museums, libraries, and theaters are closing to the public to protect the health and safety of our communities. The National Gallery of Art is no exception. We have temporarily closed our doors to staff and visitors until further notice. All of us at the Gallery will do our part to flatten the curve for our fellow citizens and health care heroes.

Amid this upheaval, I am thinking deeply about what is essential. Of course, at the very top of the list are the health and safety of Gallery staff, contractors, and volunteers, but not far behind are continuity, a connection with our past, and optimism for the future. Throughout history, we have endured many crises and persevered. Some of the world’s greatest art was created during those times, and many examples, which testify to the endurance of the human spirit, are found within our walls. This is why the Gallery is making efforts to bring our collections and programs to our audiences around the world.

The Gallery has expanded the content we offer across our digital platforms. We hope this list of ten digital education resources will support parents and their children, teachers, students, and caregivers in their new roles at home. Our social media channels offer daily gallery tours and close views of works in the collection, which allow for a visit to the Gallery from anywhere, at any time. Make sure to follow along on the Gallery’s TwitterInstagram, or Facebook. And please consider signing up for our e-newsletter, which will now offer weekly updates and curated recommendations for engaging with our collection and programs.

For me, art is essential, as it is the expression of what it means to be human. In experiencing art and creativity, we feel the power of our shared humanity, and empathize with one another as well as those who came before us. I hope you will continue to virtually visit the Gallery and find tangible inspiration and comfort. The words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, spoken at the Gallery’s dedication in March 1941, in the midst of World War II, have never been truer:

“The dedication of this Gallery to a living past, and to a greater and more richly living future, is the measure of the earnestness of our intention: that the freedom of the human spirit shall go on.”

Listen to FDR's speech on the dedication of the National Gallery of Art

Signature of Kaywin Feldman