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Release Date: November 17, 2008

National Gallery of Art Celebrates the 2008 Holiday Season

Washington, DC—With the arrival of the holiday season, the National Gallery of Art presents a wide array of holiday offerings, include a film program, caroling, gallery talks, and concerts amidst festive holiday decorations. All programs are free and available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden ice rink also offers skaters of all ages a memorable setting to enjoy the holiday season in Washington, DC.

Rotunda Decorations

Beginning Friday, December 5, hundreds of red and white poinsettias, an abundance of amaryllis plants, and twelve Christmas trees adorned with sparkling white lights will be installed in the grand West Building Rotunda and Garden Courts, giving the Main Floor of the West Building a festive atmosphere for the holiday season.

Film Program

In the 50-minute film The Private Life of a Christmas Masterpiece: The Annunciation (BBC, 2006) conservators and curators from the UK and US disclose details of the history, iconography, and preservation of Jan van Eyck’s The Annunciation, one of the great works in the National Gallery of Art collection. Screenings are at 12:30 p.m. on December 10–12, 17–19, 24, and 26 in the East Building Auditorium.

Gallery Talks

The Christmas Story in Art, a 60-minute discussion about paintings in the permanent collection that contain holiday themes telling the Christian story of the birth of Jesus, will be led by Gallery lecturer J. Russell Sale on December 9, 11, 16, 18, and 23 at 11:00 a.m. in the West Building Rotunda. Additional information is available at

Caroling in the West Building Rotunda

Caroling in the seasonally decorated West Building Rotunda has become a favorite family activity during the holiday season at the Gallery. Visitors are invited to sing along with guest choirs and ensembles at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. on December 13, 14, 20, and 21. Singers and spectators of all ages are welcome. Caroling is led this year by the following groups:

December 13
Stoneridge School of the Sacred Heart, Bethesda, MD
Nancy Fazio, Director

December 14
Annapolis Area Christian School Madrigal Singers
Cindy Bauchspies, Director

December 20
Marriotts Ridge High School
Terry Eberhardt, Director

December 21
National Gallery Orchestra Strings
Stephen Ackert, Conductor

Holiday Concerts

Concerts, offered on Sundays in the West Garden Court of the West Building, are free to the public. Performances begin at 6:30 p.m. (unless noted otherwise) and end at approximately 8:00 p.m. Audiences are admitted on a first-come, first-seated basis starting at 6:00 p.m. The Garden Café, located in the West Building, remains open until 6:00 p.m.

The Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW entrance to the West Building and the Fourth Street entrance to the East Building remain open until 6:30 p.m. No entry or re-entry to either building is permitted after 6:30. For a full concert listing, visit or call (202) 842-6941. This year’s participants include:

December 14
New York Opera Society and Soloists from Norway
Norwegian Christmas Festival Concert

December 21
Alessandra Marc, soprano, with National Gallery Orchestra Strings
Holiday Concert

December 28
National Gallery Orchestra, with guest conductor Manfred Knoop
New Year Concert

Web Feature

Visitors to the Gallery’s Web site may enjoy a streaming slideshow narrated by Gallery director Earl A. Powell III that explores The Adoration of the Magi (c. 1440/1460), a complex and colorful painting from Renaissance Florence. Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi created the masterpiece, which tells the story of the three kings bringing gifts to the Christ Child twelve days after his birth. The online feature can be found at

Gallery Shops

The Gallery’s Holiday Shop offers wrapping paper, gift tags, holiday books and activities for children, and the popular 2009 National Gallery of Art engagement and wall calendars. A wide array of boxed greeting cards are available, including cards featuring works of art by Giorgione, Sandro Botticelli, and Ansel Adams from the Gallery’s permanent collection. The Gallery Shops offer a variety of art-related gifts such as jewelry, art books, and prints.

In honor of the popular exhibition Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples, the cookbook Cucina Napoletana: 100 Recipes from Italy’s Most Vibrant City is available, as well as beautiful Neapolitan ceramic ware. An attractive catalogue of the exhibition and a variety of home accessories, apparel, jewelry, and gift items inspired by works of art and luxury goods excavated in Pompeii are sold in the exhibition shop. For additional unique gift ideas, browse through the online offerings at


During the month of December, special refreshments, including hot cocoa and holiday sweets with an international flavor, may be purchased in the Espresso & Gelato Bar in the East Building Concourse and in the Sculpture Garden Pavilion Café. The Espresso & Gelato Bar will offer enticing holiday flavors of gelato and sorbetto, including apple cider, pumpkin, caramel apple, and peppermint candy cane.

In conjunction with the Pompeii exhibition, visitors to the National Gallery of Art Garden Café Italia may enjoy cuisine from the region of Campania—home to Naples, Salerno, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast—in signature dishes from Chef Arturo Iengo of Ristorante Pascalucci in Benevento, Italy, and Chef Fabio Salvatore of Café Milano in Georgetown, Washington, DC..

General Information

For additional press information please call or send inquiries to:
Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
2000 South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]
Anabeth Guthrie
Chief of Communications
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]

The Gallery also offers a broad range of newsletters for various interests. Follow this link to view the complete list.

Press Release