Living in the DC area or planning to visit? One of benefits here are the many FREE museums owned by the Smithsonian Institution, like the National Gallery of Art. My kids like art museums, so we were excited to visit. My son had just completed an artist biography project on Georges Seurat, so we checked out the NGA website ahead of time to find the gallery that had the Seurat pointillism paintings.
Compared to other museums we’ve visited (like the Walters in Baltimore and the Delaware Art Museum), the National Gallery seemed very old fashioned. It’s perfectly laid out for the large throngs of tourists that visit daily, but not so good for three active kids. Room after room are laid out the same way, with a couch and many paintings to look at. After the 25th room, my kids took to sitting on every single couch they could find, sighing heavily. There was no kids’ room or anything hands-on to engage them. There was one nice surprise–to me, anyway–I didn’t know that the only Leonardo daVinci painting in America is at the National Gallery, Ginevra de’ Benci, and it was incredible to see.
Outdoors–we did a little better. The Sculpture Garden houses 17 works, all of which my kids found interesting. They especially liked the stainless steel tree, “Graft,” by artist Roxy Paine.
I love the optical illusion “House” by Roy Lichtenstein. Once you’re outside, there’s room for the kids to run and stretch, and make a little more noise than inside the museum. Unfortunately, this art museum wasn’t a big hit with my family as other, smaller museums have been. We did only see the West Building with the older works of art. We’ll need to give the modern art in the East Building a try before it closes for a three-year renovation.
What art museums does your family like?
Whether you’re local or just planning to visit the DC area this summer, find more posts on Day Trips from DC:
- Washington DC Memorials with Kids
- National Aquarium in DC
- National Building Museum
- Walters Art Museum (Baltimore)