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National Gallery of Art, Overview

The National Gallery of Art, one of the world's preeminent museums, was created for the people of the United States of America by a joint resolution of Congress accepting the gift of financier, public servant, and art collector Andrew W. Mellon in 1937, the year of his death. The Gallery's collection of more than 130,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, decorative arts, and furniture traces the development of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present.

West Building. Funds for the construction of the original (West) building, which opened to the public in 1941, were provided by the A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust. Designed by John Russell Pope, the West Building includes European (13th-early 20th century) and American (18th-early 20th century) works. An extensive survey of Italian painting and sculpture, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas, is presented here. Rich in Dutch masters and French impressionists, the collection offers superb surveys of American, British, Flemish, Spanish, and 15th– and 16th–century German art. (Learn more about the West Building)

East Building. Funds for construction of the East Building were given by Paul Mellon and Ailsa Mellon Bruce, the son and daughter of the founder, and by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Designed by I. M. Pei, the East Building opened to the public in 1978. Its galleries and exhibition spaces are especially suited for displaying contemporary art. Major 20th-century artists such as Alexander Calder, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko are represented in the collection. The East Building also houses the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, a research library, an extensive photographic archive, and administrative offices. The library is available for use by researchers (18 years and older) by appointment only; call (202) 842-6511.

For specific information regarding ongoing renovations, visit

Sculpture Garden. Given to the nation by The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the 6.1-acre National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden opened to the public in 1999. The dynamic and richly landscaped setting includes 17 major works, including important acquisitions of post–World War II sculpture by such internationally renowned artists as Louise Bourgeois, Mark di Suvero, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Tony Smith, and Roxy Paine. Visitors are able to enjoy live jazz on Friday evenings by the reflecting pool and fountain in summer and an ice-skating rink in winter, as well as ample seating and walking areas with native American canopy trees, flowering trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and perennials. The Pavilion Café offers refreshments year-round. The Sculpture Garden, located on the Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, is open during regular Gallery hours and evenings as announced. 

Special Exhibitions and Public Programs. Special exhibitions are presented throughout the year. The Gallery also offers a free concert series, lectures, tours, film screenings, and a wide range of educational programs and materials for loan. Works on paper by such important artists as Albrecht Dürer, William Henry Fox Talbot, Helen Frankenthaler, and Robert Frank may be seen in special exhibitions or by appointment in the Study Rooms; call (202) 842-6392 for prints and drawings or (202) 842-6144 for photographs.

Funding Sources. The National Gallery represents a partnership of federal and private resources. The Gallery's operations and maintenance are supported through federal appropriations. All of the Gallery's acquisitions of works of art, as well as numerous special programs, are made possible through private donations and funds.


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.