The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum reopened on July 1, 2006, showcasing a newly restored historic building in Washington, DC. The two museums share a National Historic Landmark building, the old U.S. Patent Building, stretching two city blocks within the Penn Quarter neighborhood, the revitalized arts district of downtown Washington.
The museums are known collectively as the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, in honor of their largest donor, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a national philanthropic organization founded by the principal owner of a nationwide communications and media company.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation donated $75 million towards renovating the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Renwick Gallery, a branch of the museum located in a separate building near the White House, highlights American crafts and contemporary arts from the 19th to 21st centuries.
8th and F Streets NW., Washington, DC (202) 633-1000. The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum are located within one building that stretches between Seventh and Ninth streets and between F and G streets NW., Washington, DC.
The two museums share a main entrance on F Street. The G Street entrance serves tour groups and provides access to the shared museum stores. The museums are located near the Verizon Center and the International Spy Museum. The closest Metro station is Gallery Place-Chinatown.
National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery tells the stories of America through the individuals who established American culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts, and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists.
The museum’s collection of nearly 20,000 works ranges from paintings and sculpture to photographs and drawings. The National Portrait Gallery presents six permanent exhibitions including the expanded “America’s Presidents” as well as “America Origins, 1600-1900,” and “20th Century Americans” featuring famous sports figures and entertainers.
The Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard provides a year-round public gathering space enclosed by a curving glass roof. The museums offer a variety of free public programs in the courtyard, including family days and musical performances. Free public wireless Internet access is available in the courtyard. The Courtyard Café offers casual dining from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home of the largest collection of American art in the world including more than 41,000 artworks, spanning more than three centuries. The exhibits tell the story of America through the visual arts and represent the most inclusive collection of American art of any museum today.
It is the nation’s first federal art collection, predating the 1846 founding of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum’s permanent collection will be featured in six installations, including “American Experience,” “American Art through 1940” and contemporary works in the Lincoln Gallery.
The Luce Foundation Center for American Art, a study center, and visible art storage facility, displays more than 3,300 artworks from the museum’s permanent collection in a three-story skylight space. Interactive computer kiosks provide information about each object on display.
A variety of programs are offered in the center, including themed scavenger hunts for children, a weekly sketching workshop, and Art + Coffee tours and musical performances. The Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library has a collection of more than 100,000 books, catalogs, and periodicals on American art, history, and biography.