8 Reasons Why The National Gallery of Art is the Best Museum in Washington, DC

Washington, DC is by no means lacking in museums to visit. There are so many to choose from, it’s almost impossible to see them all!

east wing national gallery of art

Even when I studied in DC for a semester, I wasn’t able to visit every museum the city had to offer. Of the ones I did, however, the National Gallery of Art easily became one of my favorite museums of all time.

Here are 8 reasons why the National Gallery of Art is the best museum in Washington, DC:

1. It’s huge!

The National Gallery of Art takes up 271,000 square feet, making it one of the largest art museums in the world! That means thousands of art pieces for you to walk around and peruse. And with the recent reopening of the East Wing, it’s now even more massive. I actually stayed from open to close, because there’s that much to see!

2. Art for all kinds of tastes

There are Renaissance paintings, photography series, sculptures, modern art, Jackson Pollocks, works by Cezanne, American furniture…you name it, they have it. Like most museums in DC, everyone can find something they like inside, regardless of preference.

national gallery of art painting

3. The cafe is great

Is it weird that this is part of the list? Not to me–art makes me hungry! When you’re spending so much time somewhere, you’re bound to get peckish.

In my experience, many museums have awful food, and that includes other museums in DC! Having some nice food, and in a nice setting, is so relaxing after walking around for hours.

national gallery of art statue

4. The giant blue rooster

Hahn/Cock, a piece by Katrina Fritsch, was originally unveiled in London, and later relocated to Washington, DC. This big fella is outside the East Wing now, and it’s even bigger than you think it is!

There are only two of these in the world, so make sure you appreciate him properly. (I love him)

hahn cock national gallery of art

5. Ginevra de’ Benci

Why this specific piece? Well, it’s the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas! It’s a rather small painting, but it’s certainly impressive, and you can even see the art that’s on the back. This little painting is definitely one of the most popular highlights in the National Gallery of Art.

ginevra de binci national gallery of art

6. The walkway between wings

This isn’t just any walkway, it’s an art display all on its own. To go from the West Wing to the East Wing, you have to go through a lit up tunnel that looks like you’re surrounded by glittering stars. It’s a completely magical experience that no video can replicate.

7. The sculpture garden

Outside and across the street from the National Gallery of Art is its sculpture garden, a 6.1 acre area full of fantastic art pieces and beautiful scenery. If you visit Washington, DC during the winter, you can even ice skate here!

PS: the cafe is also good 😀

amor sculpture garden national gallery of art

8. It’s free!

That’s right! Like many museums in DC, the National Gallery of Art is free. You can experience everything I just listed without spending a dime!

Beyond that, I have a true appreciation for art museums that open their doors to the public. Artwork shouldn’t be something reserved to those who can afford it, and keeping admission to this amazing museum free helps level that disparity. 🙂

national gallery of art statue 2

There are tons of reasons to visit the National Gallery of Art, but these were my absolute favorite features. You have a lot of choices in DC, but I hope I’ve swayed some of you to my side. 😉

What’s your favorite museum? Let me know in the comments!

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13 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why The National Gallery of Art is the Best Museum in Washington, DC

  1. This museum is free!!!! That’s definitely an added plus. Because I love art and art museums. Some of the pieces of art here seem to be really live and speaking. And the museum looks so grand

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  2. I’ve been to Washington, but unfortunately not to the National Gallery and I heard it is supposed to be amazing. I hope I can re-visit and take time to see the amazing art!

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  3. The National Gallery of Art seems to be one of the top art museums in DC ! Looks like you get a lot of places to sit, admire and reflect on all the art. I guess you need to spend several hours to be able to appreciate it all and the museum is well worth the visit if you’re an art lover 😉

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  4. I have to go if I visit Washington DC!! I love free things:D Plus I saw the blue rooster in London haha:) I love huge art museums where you can spend whole afternoons soaking up everything. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  5. This sounds like a great gallery. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t visit any museums or galleries inWashington as we only had a day there – a great excuse to go back 🙂

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  6. Museums are always such great activities, so it’s nice that it’s free. I love art museums and DC’s museum seems to have a lot to offer. I’d love to see that giant rooster in real life! And totally not weird to include the cafe, good food is always a plus 😀

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  7. I love that you can return to a museum and every time find something new to explore because it’s so big. And even better if it’s free like this one in Washington DC! Such great reminder for me to get out this weekend and visit the museum here in Auckland 💜

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