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Release Date: October 28, 2009

National Gallery of Art Celebrates the 2009 Holiday Season

Washington, DC (Updated November 20, 2007)—An array of festive activities awaits at the National Gallery of Art this holiday season. The Gallery's beautifully decorated Rotunda and free, specially themed gallery talks, films, concerts, and caroling have become a highlight of many visitors' holiday itineraries. The delicious cuisine in the Gallery's cafés round out the season's offerings.

Rotunda Decorations

Beginning Thursday, December 3, hundreds of red and white poinsettias, an abundance of amaryllis plants, and 12 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

The film version of La Petite Marchande d'Allumettes (The Little Match Girl), Hans Christian Andersen's timeless tale of the poor little match seller who finds happy fantasies of holiday feasts when she strikes her own matches, was shot by Jean Renoir and Jean Tédesco as they generated electricity from an automobile motor and improvised their own lighting. (1928, 35 mm print from Cinemathèque française with live piano accompaniment performed by Andrew Simpson, approximately 40 minutes).The screening will take place Saturday, December 19, at 1:00 p.m. in the East Building Auditorium.

Film Program for Children and Teens

The film Christmas Story (Juha Wuolijoki, Finland, 2007, 80 minutes) will be shown as part of the ongoing Film Program for Children and Teens on Saturday, December 5, at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday, December 6, at 11:30 a.m.

Hundreds of years ago in a remote village in Lapland, a little boy named Nikolas loses his family in an accident. The villagers decide to look after the orphaned boy together. Once a year, at Christmas, Nikolas moves to a new home. To show his gratitude, Nikolas decides to make toys for the children of his adoptive families. Over the years, almost every house comes to have presents on its doorstep on Christmas morning. At 13, Nikolas is sent to live and work with Iisakki, a grumpy old carpenter, who forbids Nikolas to continue making his presents. Gradually, however, Nikolas wins Iisakki's trust and together they look after the Christmas tradition. When the aging Iisakki has to leave Nikolas and move away, the tradition of Christmas presents is once again at risk. Thankfully, Nikolas comes up with a solution that brings children joy every Christmas, even today. This film is appropriate for visitors seven years and older. Feature films are in English unless otherwise noted. All film programs are shown in the East Building Auditorium, and seating is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. For up-to-date information on the current month's films, please call (202) 789-3030 or visit

Gallery Talks

The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel by Duccio di Buoninsegna, a 30-minute talk on one of the most important Sienese 14th-century devotional images in America, is led by Gallery lecturer David Gariff on December 10, 12, 13, and 16 at 1:00 p.m. and December 8 at 2:00 p.m., beginning in the West Building Rotunda.

The Christmas Story in Art is a 60-minute discussion about paintings in the permanent collection that contain holiday themes telling the Christian story of the birth of Jesus, led by Gallery lecturer J. Russell Sale on December 15, 17, 18, and 23 at noon, beginning in the West Building Rotunda.

Additional information is available at

Caroling in the West Building Rotunda

Caroling in the festively 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 12, 13, 19, and 20. The groups will perform their own music as well as lead the audience in standard Christmas carols. Performances last for 45 minutes and singers and spectators of all ages are welcome. Caroling is led this year by the following groups:

December 12
Xaverian High School Chorus
Joe Loposky, director of music

December 13
Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church Handbell and Voice Choirs
Susan Staines and Bruce Caviness, directors

December 19
Thomas Circle Singers
Jim Kreger, artistic director

December 20
Collegium Musicum of the Friday Morning Music Club
Tom Meier, director

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, offers a concert dessert menu from 4:00 to 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 reentry 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 13
Tine Thing Helseth, trumpeter
Steffen Horn, pianist
Music by Falla, Grieg, and other composers
Presented in conjunction with the Norwegian Christmas Festival at Union Station

December 20
National Gallery Vocal Arts Ensemble
Holiday Concert

January 3
National Gallery of Art Orchestra with guest conductor José Serebrier
New Year Concert

The Beffi Triptych

The Beffi Triptych: Preserving Abruzzo's Cultural Heritage, on view in the West Building's Rotunda, has been extended through the holiday season to January 10, 2010. The first work of art to be transported out of Abruzzo, Italy, in the aftermath of the violent earthquake struck the region on April 6, the triptych, depicting the Madonna and Child with scenes from the life of Christ and Mary, is one of the most important works from the National Museum of Abruzzo in the city of L'Aquila.

The Italian government has loaned the altarpiece for display at the Gallery in gratitude to the United States for being among the first to offer assistance to the region after the earthquake and as testimony to the Italian commitment to restore fully the cultural heritage of the region.

To learn more about the Beffi Triptych at the Gallery and the Abruzzo earthquake, and to obtain publicity images, please visit

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 12 days after his birth. The online feature can be found at

Gallery Shops

The Gallery's Holiday Shop offers a wide array of wrapping paper, gift tags, holiday books, and the popular 2010 National Gallery of Art engagement and wall calendars. A variety of boxed greeting cards is available, including cards featuring works of art by Raphael, Van Eyck, Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi, Master of the Saint Lucy Legend, and Belbello da Pavia from the Gallery's permanent collection. In addition, visitors will also find a CD titled Magnificat, a collection of Christmas music, produced specifically for the Gallery. The Gallery Shops offer a variety of art-related gifts such as jewelry, art books, and prints.

In honor of the popular exhibitions The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Selected Works and From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection, the Gallery Shops will feature both catalogues during the holiday season. These magnificent volumes showcase each exhibition, respectively, with 165 full-color illustrations of the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection and color illustrations of 112 works, including 100 color plates of the greatest masterpieces, from the Chester Dale Collection, making these books truly unique gift items. For additional 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 and Gelato Bar in the East Building Concourse and in the Sculpture Garden Pavilion Café. The Espresso and Gelato Bar will feature delectable holiday flavors of gelato and sorbetto—including apple cider, pumpkin, caramel apple, and peppermint candy cane.

With its newest themed menu to be inspired by an exhibition, the Gallery's Garden Café will transform once again into the American Café in honor of The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Selected Works. Created by Chef David Rogers of Restaurant Associates at the National Gallery of Art, the new menu highlights regional American cooking along the East Coast from New England to Florida, and will be served November 2, 2009, through January 27, 2010. For more information about the various dining options at the Gallery, please visit

Holiday Closures

The Gallery and Sculpture Garden are closed on December 25 and January 1.

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