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Major Giving

Private donations, in any amount, help sustain the Gallery’s standard of excellence envisioned by our founder, Andrew W. Mellon, when he and his children built the National Gallery of Art. Their public-spirited philanthropy inspired other Benefactors to contribute their collections and private resources to the nation. The National Gallery, set up as public-private partnership, received a mandate that does not allow federal funds to be used for acquisitions or special exhibitions; these rely solely on private support. Major gifts, often made over several years or through estate gifts, allow the Gallery to acquire works of art, present special exhibitions, increase educational outreach, carry on scholarly research, and remain a leader in conservation science. Donors of these gifts—which may be unrestricted or designated for a particular purpose—are recognized at Gallery events and in publications.

We welcome the opportunity to work with you on a giving plan that meets your needs.

General Support

Unrestricted gifts—those with no conditions on the use of donated funds—help the Gallery in many significant ways. Unrestricted spendable gifts enable the Gallery to meet immediate needs and help build a secure funding resource for the future.

Art Acquisition

While the Gallery is home to many renowned masterpieces, significant gaps in the collection remain, generating the need to increase and improve the Gallery’s holdings. Every work of art in the collection is the result of private philanthropy, and the Gallery looks to its major donors to help maintain the high quality of the collection by making gifts for the acquisition of art. Those who do so receive a variety of benefits and are recognized in various ways that honor their commitment.


Major donors have helped the Gallery host special public exhibitions on subjects ranging from ancient Pompeii to Andy Warhol. Individuals or foundations may sponsor an exhibition with other donors. Those who sponsor receive a variety of benefits and are recognized in various ways that acknowledge their support. Unrestricted and endowment gifts going to the Fund for the International Exchange of Art help further the Gallery’s mission as America’s cultural ambassador to the world. The Fund promotes cultural exchange on a grand scale by allowing international exhibitions to share great works of art among nations and by helping scholarly programs find an international audience.


The Gallery has many program areas in which donors may invest. Designating gifts to support specific programs, such as educational outreach activities, help further the Gallery’s mission.


Committed to preserving and protecting the works of art held in trust for the American people, the Gallery’s conservation scientists are at the forefront in developing highly specialized methods and using advanced technology to analyze works or art and explore how they were made.

Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

The Center is a research institute that fosters study of the production, use, and cultural meaning of art and encourages a variety of approaches by historians, critics, and theorists of art and related disciplines.


The National Gallery of Art Library is a major national art research center serving the scholarly community. It is a valuable resource for scholars and the general public alike.