I have been to Washington D.C several times, but until today, I had never had the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art. I visited (and Elise happily accompanied me) the West Building as well as the Sculpture Garden. Boy, oh boy, I just loved that place!
First of all, I was anticipating to pay for parking and possibly ride the metro and then walk to the gallery. I was a little nervous about that since the forecast called for 50% chance of thunderstorms. But fortunately, A. We discovered that parking on the streets on Sundays is free and we easily found a spot 3 blocks away, and B. It did not rain a single drop!
The West Building is gorgeous and the layout very user friendly. This marble structure was the largest of its kind when it was built in 1940. It is breathtaking to walk through marble columns and marble walls. The entire main floor sits under skylights, which results in having much natural light shining throughout the building. The smart and easy layout makes it simple to walk through the exhibits fluidly, without the need to backtrack. The rooms and halls are very spacious and welcoming, allowing for a very pleasant and peaceful experience.
Of course, there was not enough time to walk through the entire museum, so Elise and I decided to linger mostly around 19th and 20th Century art, especially French, our favorite. What a sweet experience.
Across the street from the West Building is the Sculpture Garden. We took a mid-day break and hung out at the water fountain (which I hear turns into an ice skating rink during the winter), did some people-watching, sculpture viewing, and Elise spent some time sketching under the warm sun. I especially enjoyed the greenery: all native trees, bushes, and huge, beautiful flowers. We ate lunch at the Pavilion Cafe and then headed back to the West Building to see the exhibits we had previously missed.
Overall, our day at the capital receives a rating of 5 out of 5. At the end of the day we were reasonably tired but pleasantly satisfied with our experience in the Art Gallery. I would love to go again in the not so distant future and “linger” in a different section of the building.