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Release Date: August 27, 2010

The National Gallery of Art Welcomes Fall with Activities for Children, Teens, and Families

Washington, DC—As autumn approaches the nation’s capital and the school year begins, the National Gallery of Art offers a number of activities and programs for young visitors. The Gallery’s Film Program for Children and Teens promises a taste of international films and varying story lines. Families can also explore the galleries together using the children’s audio tour, which highlights masterpieces from the West Building’s Main Floor galleries, or a family guide and activity booklet to the Italian and Dutch collections, also in the West Building. The world premiere of a new children’s opera, Max and Moritz: A Cartoon Opera in Seven Pranks by Gisle Kverndokk, will take place at the Gallery, and the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink and annual holiday caroling round out the season’s offerings.

With an ongoing schedule of family-friendly activities and shopping—including family workshops, special family weekends, storytelling programs, teen studios, exhibition discovery guides, the Children's Shop, and casual dining in the Cascade's Café—visitors of all ages can create memorable experiences at the Gallery.

Unless otherwise noted, all programs take place in the East Building Auditorium, and seating is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Groups are welcome. Food and drink are not permitted. For more information about family programming, visit

Film Program for Children and Teens

The Gallery’s unique film program will present innovative films from France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and more. By showcasing films in different countries during various time periods, adults and children alike are transported to a new realm of learning and possibilities. These innovative films enhance enjoyment of the Gallery's collections and exhibitions and foster an understanding of film as an art form. The program aims to represent a broad range of recently produced foreign and domestic films, including a variety of animation styles, live action, and classics. Films are selected for their appeal to youth and adult audiences; age recommendations are intended to guide parents in selecting emotionally and intellectually stimulating films for their children.

For up-to-date information on the current month's films, please call (202) 789-3030. Feature films are in English unless otherwise noted.

Max Linder Celebration
(Max Linder, France, c. 1911–1914)
Thursday, October 14, 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, October 17, 11:30 a.m.
ages 7 and up
Enjoy the silent short films of comedian Max Linder with live music. Made between 1911 and 1914, the program includes Max se trompe d’étage (Max in the Wrong Room), Max en convalescence (Max Recovering), Max veut grandir (Max Wants to Grow), Max à Monaco (Max in Monaco), Max et la doctoresse (Max and the Doctor), and Max n’aime pas les chats (Max Does Not Like Cats). Live orchestral accompaniment by The Octuor de France, featuring original music written by Gabriel Thibeaudeau. Approximately 70 minutes.

Red Like the Sky (Rosso Come il Cielo)
(Cristiano Bortone, Italy, 2005)
Saturdays, October 2 and 23, 10:30 a.m.
Sundays, October 3 and 24, 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, October 21, 10:30 a.m.
ages 9 and up
Inspired by the true story of Mirco Mencacci, one of Italy’s top music producers and sound designers, Red Like the Sky tells the story of a boy’s struggle to pursue his passion. While playing with his father’s old rifle, ten-year-old Mirco accidentally shoots himself. He survives, but loses his sight. The year is 1971, when blind children in Italy were not permitted to attend public school and instead were required to go to special schools, so Mirco is forced to leave family and friends. Life at the strict school for the blind in Genoa isn’t easy for him, and Mirco finds it hard to accept his new condition. Things begin to change when he finds an old reel-to-reel tape recorder and discovers that, by recording and editing sounds together, he can tell a story. Some of the other boys find out what Mirco is up to, and together they exercise their imaginations to create an epic tale using only sound. Featuring blind children in most of the roles, Red Like the Sky is a beautifully crafted film about youth overcoming preconceived ideas about blindness, and a testament to the power creativity has to open up the minds of children and adults alike. In Italian with English subtitles. Approximately 96 minutes.

Audio description, delivered through a wireless earphone, will be available for the screenings on October 3, 21, and 23. Audio description helps ensure that people who are blind or have low vision enjoy equal access to cultural events by providing essential visual information through descriptive narration of actions, appearance of characters, body language, costumes, and settings.

Open a Door
(Ragdoll Limited, United Kingdom, 1992)
Saturday, November 13, 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, November 14, 11:30 a.m.
ages 5 and up
Open a Door is a series of international films, each showing, without dialogue, a simple event during one day in the life of a small child. Find out what adventures a day brings to Anita in Chile, Darioush in Iran, Wen-Zheng in Taiwan, and Yolanda in South Africa, when each child opens a door and leaves home behind. Approximately 40 minutes.

Bagpuss: The Most Magical, Saggy, Old Clothe Cat
(Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, United Kingdom, 1974)
Saturday, December 4, 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, December 5, 11:30 a.m.
ages 4 and up
Bagpuss, a sleepy and much loved pink-and-white striped cloth cat, has many friends who sing songs and share tales with him between naps. Bagpuss is one of the most popular children’s television programs ever broadcast in the United Kingdom, although only 13 episodes were produced. Using stop-frame puppet animation, these short tales of discovery, friendship, and learning gently introduce the very young to concepts of cooperation, communication, trust, and the importance of imaginative play. Three episodes from the series will be featured. Approximately 50 minutes.

Children's Audio Tour: West Building Highlights

Explore fifty paintings in the West Building with an audio tour designed especially for children age seven to twelve. Handheld digital audio players allow children to move at their own pace and choose from a list of stops that include works by Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Winslow Homer. The audio tour is available free of charge and may be picked up at the Acoustiguide desk located in the Rotunda, on the main floor of the West Building. For group reservations for audio tours (ten or more), call (202) 842-6592.The National Gallery of Art’s Children's Audio Tour is made possible through the generous support of the MSST Foundation.

Family Guide: Italian and Dutch Art at the National Gallery of Art

Pick up a free family booklet at one the Gallery’s information desks. Designed for families with children ages 6 and up, the booklet helps guide visitors’ exploration of the Gallery’s Italian and Dutch collection with activities and has questions to encourage group discussions. Explore a portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, paintings by Raphael, and Dutch landscapes and still life, and sketch on your own! The Family Guide is also available to download at This family guide is made possible through the generous support of the MSST Foundation.

Children’s Opera

New York Opera Society
Max and Moritz: A Cartoon Opera in Seven Pranks by Gisle Kverndokk
Sunday, October 17, 6:30 p.m.
ages 9 and up
The Gallery will host the world premiere performance of this new children’s opera by Norwegian composer Gisle Kverndokk, performed by the New York Opera Society in honor of Edvard Munch: Master Prints and in conjunction with Norway Comes to Washington. Based on the story of two adolescent pranksters that was popular throughout Europe in the mid-19th century, the modern-day version was written by librettist Øystein Wiik and makes many humorous references to childhood in the electronic age. Composer Kverndokk has composed a musical score that will delight audiences both young and old, and the production is under the direction of the award-winning German stage director Joachim Schamberger.

Holiday Caroling

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 11, 12, 18, and 19. The groups will perform their own music as well as lead the audience in familiar Christmas carols. Performances last 45 minutes, and singers and spectators of all ages are welcome.

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink

The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden's 2010–2011 ice-skating season will begin on Saturday, November 13, and continue through March 13, 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 every season. Group and private ice-skating lessons are offered for a variety of ages and experience levels.

Skating in a park-like 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, joined last year by a new work by Roxy Paine.

Visit www.nga/gov/skating for up-to-date information about hours, admission, rental fees, and lessons.

The Children's Shop

The Children's Shop on the Concourse level offers an array of art-inspired items for children, including books, games and puzzles, toys, artists' supplies, and DVDs. To browse a small selection online, visit

Cascade Café

With a view of the cascade waterfall in the East Building’s Concourse, the Cascade Café offers an affordable selection of soups, salads, specialty entrées, wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, daily Chef's Table specials, and a selection of fresh pastries and desserts. A selection of Value Meals is available at several food stations, including sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, and chicken tenders. For those with limited time, we offer boxed lunches containing a sandwich, chips, cookie, and a beverage, which may be ordered in advance. For information about boxed lunches and group lunch vouchers, please call (202) 712-7458. Hours of operation are Monday–Saturday, 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., and Sunday, 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

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