National Gallery of Art National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art

Located in Washington, D.C., the most visited art museum in the United States fosters a deeper understanding of art through world-class collections, exhibitions, and programming.

Welcoming All to Explore Art and Creativity

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art was as a prodigious gift from financier and art collector Andrew W. Mellon, who served as secretary of the treasury from 1921 to 1932. Mellon's offer to to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to donate his personal collection and to fund construction of the museum's building was born out of his desire for America to have an exceptional national art museum. An act of Congress in 1937 established the National Gallery of Art, which the U.S. government would preserve and make available to the public for free.

When the National Gallery was dedicated in 1941, it contained 126 paintings and 26 sculptures, including Raphael's Alba Madonna, Francisco de Goya's Marquesa de Pontejos, and Giovanni Bologna's Mercury. The museum's founding benefactors representing five families — Samuel H. Kress, Rush Kress, P. A. B. Widener, Joseph Widener, Lessing J. Rosenwald, Chester Dale, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, and Paul Mellon — donated their private holdings to create "a collection of collections." The National Gallery does not grow its collection through government funds; rather, thousands of philanthropists have donated works of art or discretionary funds over the years. Today, the museum houses a collection of more than 150,000 paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, photographs, prints, and drawings that illustrate the history of Western art. The institution also boasts the acclaimed National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, created in partnership with the National Park Service.


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Exhibition - Tell It With Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial



Programming - Art Around the Corner