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Update: December 15, 2009

Ice Rink in National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Opens for Eleventh Season on December 10, Weather Permitting

Washington, DC—The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden's 2009–2010 ice-skating season will begin on Thursday, December 10, and continue through mid-March, weather permitting. Located on the National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, the ice rink is a favorite destination, attracting thousands of visitors to skate in the nation's capital. New this year, group and private ice-skating lessons are offered for a variety of ages and experience levels.

Skating in a parklike setting, surrounded by the grand architecture of national museums and monuments, is enhanced by views of large-scale sculptures by renowned modern and contemporary artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, recently joined by a new work by Roxy Paine.

To commemorate opening weekend, visitors who purchase time on the ice December 12 and 13 will receive a coupon for a complimentary cup of hot chocolate from the Pavilion Café. For entertainment off the ice, free crayons and coloring placemats that depict John Ward of Hull's The Northern Whale Fishery: The "Swan" and "Isabella" (c. 1840) are available inside the Café throughout the winter season for the young and the young-at-heart.

The skating surface, which measures approximately 135 feet long and 90 feet wide, can accommodate more than 200 skaters at a time. A state-of-the-art music system provides uniform sound to skaters, diners, and spectators without distracting other visitors to the Sculpture Garden. At night, lights encircling the rink illuminate the ice, contributing to the festive atmosphere and the skating experience. Sixteen banners that surround the ice rink represent a cross section of the broad range of portraiture in the Gallery's collection in the East and West Buildings.

Ice Rink Hours and Fees

The hours for the rink are as follows:

Monday through Thursday
10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

During the evening, when the Gallery and Sculpture Garden are closed to the public, access to the ice rink and Pavilion Café is restricted to the entrances at Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive near 9th Street. The Gallery and Sculpture Garden are closed on December 25 and January 1.

The skating fees for a two-hour session (beginning on the hour) are as follows:

$7.00 for adults
$6.00 for skaters age 50 and over, children age 12 and under, or students with school ID

The skate rental fee is $3.00 (ID required as a deposit), and lockers are available for $.50 ($5.00 deposit required). Season tickets are available for $195. For general information and announcements about openings and closings, or to make lesson reservations, call (202) 216-9397 or visit More details are available at

Group and Private Lessons

Guest Services, Inc. offers both group and private skating lessons at the ice rink in the Sculpture Garden. Certified by the United States Figure Skating Association, instructor Alice Shelley teaches skaters of all ages and experience levels.

A session of five 30-minute lessons is $115.00 per person, which also includes rink admission, skate rental, registration fee, and a USFSA Basic Skill Skating Book and Membership. Skaters can join group lessons mid-session for a pro-rated cost or try individual “pick up” classes. Private lessons are also available by appointment for $40.00 per half hour ($20.00 per 15 minutes), plus applicable admission fee and skate rental charge if needed.

For rates and additional information, visit or call (202) 216-9397.

Pavilion Café

The Pavilion Café offers a panoramic view of the Sculpture Garden and ice rink as well as a variety of food and beverages for visitors of all ages. Selections include freshly made sandwiches, gourmet pizzas, salads, and a variety of desserts. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, wine, and beer are available. Visitors may dine inside the Café or outside on the patios. To reach the Pavilion Café, please call (202) 289-3361 or visit

Café hours during the skating season are as follows:

Monday through Thursday
10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday
10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

New Art Installation Planned: Graft by Roxy Paine

The National Gallery of Art commissioned American sculptor Roxy Paine to make a stainless steel Dendroid, as the artist calls his series of tree-like sculptures. Scheduled to be installed in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in late October, Graft will be the first work by Paine to enter the collection, as well as the first contemporary sculpture to be installed in the Sculpture Garden in the nearly ten years since it opened. Graft presents two fictive but distinct species of trees—one gnarled, twisting, and irregular, the other smooth, elegant, and rhythmic—joined in the same trunk. Among its rich associations, this sculpture evokes the persistent human desire to alter and recombine elements of nature, as well as the ever–present tension between order and chaos. To view the full release, please visit

Sculpture Garden

Designed to offer year-round enjoyment to the public in one of the preeminent locations on the National Mall, the 6.1-acre National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden opened on May 23, 1999. The richly landscaped setting provides a distinctive backdrop for 17 works of modern and contemporary sculpture by internationally renowned artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Tony Smith, and others. Visitors may enjoy spacious seating and walking areas amid the native American canopy and flowering trees, shrubs, ground covers, and perennials. A majestic fountain in the summer, which serves as the ice rink in winter, is at the center of the Garden, and walking and seating areas offer visitors a chance to rest and reflect on the works on view. Also in the summer, the Garden is the setting for popular Friday evening "Jazz in the Garden" concerts. The Pavilion Café offers year-round food service, along with indoor seating.

The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden was given to the nation by The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.

The Sculpture Garden is located on the National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, in the block adjacent to the West Building of the Gallery. There are six public entryways to the Sculpture Garden, and it is accessible to visitors with disabilities. Admission is free. More information is available at

Groups and Tours at the Sculpture Garden and in the Gallery

To arrange a special guided tour of the Gallery's permanent collection for 20 or more adults before or after a visit to the ice rink during regular Gallery hours, call (202) 842-6247 at least three weeks (or up to four months) in advance. Information about other Gallery programs, exhibitions, restaurants, and Shops, is available at (202) 737-4215 or

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.