Washington, D.C. is home to most of the collections in the Smithsonian Institution’s constellation of amazing museums. Today’s “Museum of the Day”, The National Portrait Gallery, is a great collection that has been “joined at the hip” to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art with a recent addition between the buildings, making “it” one outstanding museum building with two different collections.
The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum—two museums that tell America’s stories through art, history and biography—share a newly renovated National Historic Landmark building in downtown Washington D.C. The Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, named in honor of a generous gift from the a Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, includes the two museums and their special-purpose facilities: the Lunder Conservation Center, the Luce Foundation Center for American Art, the Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium and the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard.
The National Portrait Gallery helps to tell the history of America through people who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.
The National Portrait Gallery shares with the Smithsonian American Art Museum one of Washington’s oldest public buildings, a National Historic Landmark that was begun in 1836 to house the U.S. Patent Office. One of the nation’s finest examples of Greek Revival architecture, the building has undergone an extensive renovation that showcases its most dramatic architectural features, including skylights, a curving double staircase, porticos, and vaulted galleries illuminated by natural light. The Lunder Conservation Center, the only fine–art facility of its kind, is an innovative new space that allows visitors to look through floor–to–ceiling windows as conservators care for the national treasures entrusted to both museums.
The museums are collectively known as the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, in honor of the museums’ largest donor, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
In honor of my recent move to our nation’s capital, I thought today’s museum should come from what many consider the most amazing city for museum lovers. Remember, all the Smithsonian’s 20 different museums (2 museums in New York City) – all of them are free to the public. This is a gift to our nation that should never go unappreciated!
Now that I live here again,I look forward to more visits to all the wonderful museums in Washington, D.C.