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Looking to plan the ideal visit? Social media personality Diego Gonzalez-Zuniga, known as @DiegoDowntown on Instagram, shares his perfect day exploring the museum. 

Morning Coffee and Awe

My day kicked off at the Terrace Cafe. The light breakfast and steamy cup of coffee gave me a burst of energy—much needed for the adventure ahead. Tip for coffee lovers: their dark roast is a must-try!

A Celebration of Queer Art

As a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I had been eagerly awaiting this moment: immersing myself in the brilliant art of Ellsworth Kelly. Kelly was an openly gay man, and his work is an important part of our queer history. 

I found his vibrant Color Panels for a Large Wall in the East Building Atrium. (Kelly designed the layout of the panels for this space!) I am Latinx, and the colors reminded me of home. A must-see for everyone, whether you’re an art expert or a newbie like me.

The Gift Shop Spree

Alright, confession time! I’m a sucker for souvenirs. The gift shops at the National Gallery are a wonderland. From quirky home accessories and elegant jewelry to custom art prints and toys for kids, it’s hard to resist. And guess what? I didn’t. My favorite find was a colorful fanny pack, perfect for carrying my essentials for the day. 

Then, as I strolled through the galleries, something fabulous happened! A realization hit me—the design of my fanny pack matched one of the artworks: Tableau No. IV! It turns out my new accessory is inspired by the paintings of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. For a moment there, I felt like a part of the collection, blending seamlessly with the vibrant artwork.

Lunch in the Garden

My next stop? The Garden Café. Nothing complements a day of art like a fresh salad and a crunchy cookie amidst stylish greenery. The ambiance? Peaceful and rejuvenating.

Sweet Treat Break

No museum journey is complete without a treat. I made a quick stop at the Espresso & Gelato Bar. Their gelato is to die for. Creamy, flavorful, and a feast for the eyes. They even have a blue rooster flavor inspired by Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn / Cock, which sits on the East Building’s Roof Terrace. It’s like tasting art!

Romance in the Galleries

Later in the day, my boyfriend Carter joined me. Hand in hand, we explored the more intimate corners of the museum. Each painting, each sculpture seemed to tell our love story in fragments.

Picnic Among Sculptures

It was a beautiful day, so Carter and I decided to cross the street and explore the Sculpture Garden. We got some snacks from the Pavilion Café and laid out a picnic with some outdoor dining essentials from the National Gallery shops. Surrounded by towering masterpieces, we lost track of time, enjoying each other’s company and the artful setting.

Reflecting on Love

We wrapped up our visit by the fountain at the center of the Sculpture Garden. As the sun began its descent, we looked into the water, seeing not just our reflections but the beautiful culmination of a day filled with art, love, and identity.

There you have it, my perfect day at the National Gallery. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or just looking for a fun outing, this place has something for everyone. Don’t forget to bring your fanny pack—you never know when it might match the art!

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Diego Gonzalez-Zuniga

September 22, 2023