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Scavenger Hunt: National Gallery of Art in your Neighborhood

All ages

Explore your neighborhood with family or friends and see what our buildings and gardens have in common with your house and the places nearby. Grab pencil and paper to record discoveries you make along the way or take photos!

Download a printable version of the Scavenger Hunt (PDF 1.5MB).

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Before you begin!

The National Gallery of Art takes up seven city blocks along the National Mall in Washington, DC. We have a West Building, an East Building, and a Sculpture Garden


West Building Shapes

Can you find these shapes or architectural elements from the West Building of the National Gallery of Art in your neighborhood? 


1. Semicircles

The dome at the National Gallery of Art looks like a semicircle. Where do you see this shape in your home or neighborhood? 


2. Columns

Columns are tall and help hold up the roof of a building. Count the number of columns you see in this picture. How many can you find in your neighborhood? 


3. Spirals

The tops of the columns at the National Gallery of Art have spiral shapes. Can you spot any where you live? 


4. Building Decorations

The outside or exterior of the building is made of Tennessee pink marble, with wreaths carved into the stone. What decorations do you see on the buildings around you?


5. Water Fountains

The National Gallery of Art has FIVE outdoor water fountains. Where can you find water in your neighborhood?

Did You Know? 

The West Building was designed by the architect John Russell Pope and opened in 1941. He wanted to remind people of ancient temples in Rome. Construction took three and one-half years and many builders, stonemasons, and carpenters.


East Building Shapes

Can you find these shapes or architectural elements from the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in your neighborhood?


1. Letters

The East Building sits on land that is in the shape of a trapezoid. I. M. Pei had to design something to fit this unusual site. The building looks like the letters “H” (front and center) and “I” (just off to the side). Is it saying “HI” to you? What other letters can you find around your neighborhood?


2.  Triangles

The architect divided the shape of the East Building into two main triangles and included triangles all over: for the floor, the ceiling, the stairs, and even the glass pyramids by the fountain on the plaza. How many triangles can you count in your neighborhood?   


3. Windows

The ceiling of the East Building has an enormous skylight that lets the sun shine into the Atrium. Count the number of windows in your home. What shapes are the windows you see in your neighborhood? 


4. Shadows

Sunlight comes into the East Building through windows and skylights, and creates shadows that dance on the floors and the walls. What shadows do you see around your neighborhood? Try making shadows with your hands or body. 


5. Cobblestones

The plaza between the East and the West Buildings is made of cobblestones. They are bumpy and fun to walk on. What does the ground feel like where you live? Is it bumpy or smooth?

Did You Know? 

Designed by the architect I. M. Pei, the East Building took many builders, concrete finishers, and brick layers seven years to complete. It opened in 1978 and is where the museum’s modern and contemporary art lives. Does it look like the West Building? What do you notice that is different? 


Sculpture Garden

Can you find these flowers and trees from the Sculpture Garden in your neighborhood?


1. Japanese Maple  Acer palmatum

Small, with low and delicate branches, the Japanese maple trees at the National Gallery of Art have red leaves. Look for a tree whose leaves are not green.


2. Knock Out Roses  Rosa radrazz

Knock Out roses are known for their long blooming season and repeat flowering. Can you find a flower blooming in your neighborhood? 


3. Crape Myrtle  Lagerstroemia ‘Natchez

You can identify this very popular flowering tree by its smooth bark, which sheds throughout the year. What texture do you notice on the bark of the trees around you? 


4. Southern Magnolia  Magnolia grandiflora ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’

This large evergreen has fragrant flowers during May and June. Notice the underside of the leaf: it is brown! Find a flower in your neighborhood that has a smell. Does it remind you of anything?


5. Yellow Yarrow  Eriophyllum confertiflorum

Butterflies and bees can be found on this brilliant yellow plant during the summer. What insects do you see in your neighborhood? Pay attention to how they move.

Did You Know? 

Designed by Laurie D. Olin and opening in 1999, the Sculpture Garden was completed in just two years, thanks to a team of concrete finishers, builders, art handlers, and horticulturalists (plant specialists). Inside you can find large sculptures, trees, and a fountain that turns into an ice rink in the winter. Horticulturalists tend to the garden every day. 


Make Your Own

  • What can you build with blocks or Lego pieces that uses the National Gallery of Art as inspiration? 
  • Can you design your own garden using your favorite drawing and coloring materials? Experiment with texture by covering a leaf or tree bark you find along your walk with paper and rubbing it with a pencil or crayon.
  • Want to share? Post any photos you took of your discoveries with us @ngadc on Twitter or Instagram using #myngadc


Related Resources

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