Visual Art Scene in Washington D.C.
Washington, DC is internationally known for the vast collection of art housed in its celebrated
museums and galleries. But what many visitors to Washington, DC may not realize is that these large institutions
only scratch the surface of the area's visual arts offerings. In a city full of culturally diverse people, food and entertainment,
the art scene is no different. From tiny galleries in trendy Dupont Circle showcasing local works to blockbuster exhibitions on the National Mall,
the visual arts in Washington, DC are worth an in-depth look.
National Gallery of Art
If you're in search of an art history lesson,
begin your exploration of the DC visual arts scene at the National Gallery of Art.
Representing the major achievements in painting, sculpture and graphic arts from the Middle Ages
to the present, the Gallery contains more than 100,000 works in two buildings, including Ginevra de' Benci,
the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere.
The West Building houses art through the 19th century and the East Building houses
contemporary and modern art. In addition to the two buildings, the Gallery opened a sculpture garden in 1999.
It contains 17 works on 6.1 acres of land and includes important post-World War II sculptures by internationally
recognized artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg.
The National Gallery also organizes national shows that travel to other prominent museums.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art
Described by Frank Lloyd Wright as "the best designed building in Washington, DC," The Corcoran Gallery of Art,
just a block from the White House, displays its collection in a Beaux-Arts style building with an impressive two-story atrium entrance hall.
The Corcoran is the largest non-federal art museum in DC and was the first art museum to open in the city.
Today, it is world-renowned for its permanent collection of 20th-century painting, sculpture and photography,
featuring works by such artists as John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas.
Corcoran College of Art and Design
For those looking to dig deeper into their own artistic abilities, the Corcoran College of Art and Design offers
degrees and continuing education programs in several of the visual arts, including digital media design,
graphic design, interior design, photography and fine arts. Classes in ceramics, drawing, painting and
sculpture are also offered for those looking to satisfy artistic curiosities.
The Phillips Collection
Considered America's first museum of modern art, The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle
is noted for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including
Auguste Renoir's "The Luncheon of the Boating Party." Works by El Greco, Chardin, Manet,
Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso are also part of this impressive collection, housed in what was
once the private home of art collector Duncan Phillips and his family. The Phillips Collection enlarged
its current facilities with the renovation of the Goh Annex and the opening of an education center, expanded gallery space,
an improved library, and a new 180-seat auditorium.
The Kreeger Museum
near Georgetown University, with works from the 1850s to the 1970s,
can be considered a labor of love. The collection was acquired by Carmen and the late David Kreeger,
who only purchased pieces that they could both agree on. Their pleasing tastes show in works by Picasso,
Monet, van Gogh, Miro, Kandinsky, Renoir, along with many others. The collection is staged in the Kreeger's
Foxhall residence, a sprawling, Modernist mansion with furnishings that reflect Mrs. Kreeger's native Puerto Rico.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts
located on New York Avenue in downtown DC, houses more than 3,000 works,
spanning from the Renaissance through today's artists. Opened in 1987 in what was once, ironically, a former male-only
Masonic lodge, it is the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to preserving and honoring the achievements of
women in all disciplines, periods and nationalities. Works by Frida Kahlo - who recently received renewed attention through
the commercial and critical success of the Oscar-nominated biographical movie - are displayed here.
In addition to showing important works by women artists, the museum actively promotes women in the arts
through various outreach and educational programs.