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Sketching in the Museum


Download some sketching prompts to get started. 

You are invited to sketch with pencils and other dry media in the galleries. Sketching encourages us, regardless of age or ability, to slow down, to look carefully, and to connect with works of art. It allows us time to see more and experience works of art through a different lens. Download some sketching prompts to get started or just bring your sketchbook and pencil on your next visit to the museum. With each mark you make, you participate in a time-honored tradition of artists who sketch to explore ideas, develop their skills, and renew their creative spirit.


  • Focus on what you can observe rather than how realistic your sketch looks. 
  • Keep it simple. Try sketching one or two details from a work of art; break down complex compositions into large shapes. 
  • To stay loose, experiment with holding your pencil like a paintbrush instead of a writing tool.
  • Don’t worry about making mistakes. Make many marks and darken the ones that work best for your sketch. 
  • Have a conversation with a friend, family member, or fellow sketcher about what you noticed.

Share your creativity!
Tag your drawing with #NGAsketch and share via Twitter or Instagram.
Your work might be featured (with credit) on the Gallery’s social media.

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Related Programs

Drawing Salon

Register to join us for sketching and conversation in the galleries. Drawing Salon is a series of adult workshops that explores the permanent collection through close looking, drawing, and discussion.

Copyist Program
A permit issued by the registrar's office is required for copying works of art in oil or any other liquid medium. Learn more about the Gallery’s copyist program.

The Gallery offers free Wi-Fi, accessible by selecting the “NGA_Public_WiFi” network. Review the Gallery's Wi-Fi policy.

Answers to frequently asked questions about the National Gallery of Art.

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