National Gallery of Art Washington DC Tour Essay

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Cultural Tour of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC




Andrew William Mellon, an art collector and investor hailing from Pittsburgh, designed and presented Washington's famed National Gallery of Art to American citizens. Mellon came to the U.S. capital in the year 1921 and took up the post of U.S. "Secretary of the Treasury." He felt the nation ought to have an art gallery just like other major States. Consequently, in the year 1936, he contacted President Roosevelt and offered to contribute his splendid art collection to a new national museum, which he proposed he would construct using his personal funds. Hence, with Congressional and Presidential support, the Washington National Gallery of Art was opened in March of 1937 (National Gallery of Art, 2016).

Tour of the Gallery




I undertook a virtual visit to Washington, DC's National Gallery of Art on September 4, 2016 at approximately 11:30am. The gallery's entryway is massive, and left me awestruck. The first view had me certain that my visit would definitely be highly enjoyable and educational. The gallery's West Building with its formal public entryways on all sides is classically styled, although developed using the era's most advanced technology available. The main floor of the structure centers on a Pantheon-type Rotunda. To its west and east, barrel-vaulted statue halls guide viewers to beautiful garden courts, whose fountains and greenery are a relaxing haven for the visitor. Interlinked galleries featuring exhibits extend to these huge public areas' south and north such that visitors are able to conveniently start their tour in a certain room and progress across the entire art collection without having to retrace their steps (National Gallery of Art, 2016).


I learnt from my virtual tour that Mellon had expected a tremendous growth in the National Gallery collection, beyond the original building's capacity.

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This expansion in the collection led to the construction of its East Building in the year 1971. The newer structure has a modernist style, with a massive triangular atrium that forms the spectacular heart of the structure's internal public space. The atrium is covered by a sculptural space framework, which permits the entry ample amount of natural light into the building. A street- level paved plaza and underground concourse link the two edifices. A gushing waterfall and a total of 7 glass tetrahedrons illuminate, and bring movement to, the subterranean space (National Gallery of Art, 2016).



The gallery portrays exhibits by nation of origin and era, in suitably-designed galleries. For example, Italian Renaissance art gallery walls feature hand-painted plastering and Italian travertine paneling, with door- and base- surround decorations and inbuilt recesses for displaying sculptures. On the other hand, seventeenth-century Dutch artworks are portrayed in galleries having wood paneling for bringing to mind their real setting (National Gallery of Art, 2016).



A monumental sculpture garden can be found to the original edifice's west. In the midst of arcing paths and curvilinear native plant beds, I was delighted to come across Louise Bourgeois' Spidery, Roxy Paine's Graft, Roy Lichtenstein's House I, and Barry Flanagan's Thinker on a Rock. The heart of this garden is a fountain and round reflecting pool (that becomes the ideal space for ice-skating in winter) (National Gallery of Art, 2016).

Leonardo da Vinci's Works




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References


Leonardo da Vinci; Paintings, Drawings, Quotes, Biography. (2011-2016). Retrieved September 4, 2016, from Leonardo da Vinc: http://www.leonardodavinci.net/

National Gallery of Art. (2016). A Brief History. Retrieved September 4, 2016, from National Gallery of Art: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/about.html

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