The National Gallery of Art Reopens

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Note: As of July 12, timed passes will no longer be required

The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC reopened its East and West Buildings and Sculpture Garden on June 18. Admission is still free but reserving a timed pass is required. Passes are released every Monday at 10 a.m. at Masking is no longer required for visitors who are fully vaccinated (two weeks after the last shot).

Almost all galleries were open and filled with visitors on a recent weekday visit, many of whom were masked. The Gallery’s impressive permanent collection spans most of European, British, and American art history. The West Building is home to works from the Middle Ages up through the Impressionists. The East Building picks up the timeline, starting with the Post-Impressionists, up through today’s artists.

Major East Building renovations

The East Building is undergoing renovations that began in 2019, among them the replacement of their iconic atrium skylights and improving accessibility. The atrium is open but the skylights remained covered and the custom Alexander Calder sculpture that usually floats overhead has been removed for the duration of the project. Currently, the library is available to researchers by appointment only. Along with the galleries, the Roof Terrace is open, where visitors can find stunning views of downtown Washington, the Capitol Building, and their favorite blue rooster!

Three temporary installations are on display in the atrium during the renovations. Sarah Cain, Avish Khebrehzadeh, and Kay Rosen were commissioned to create works for the space. All three are known for making work for temporary sites or architectural spaces. An exhibition of the work of Lynda Benglis, scheduled for last year, is also on display through January 2, 2022. 

Lynda Benglis, Phool, 1980, plaster, bronze wire, and gold, The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, Patrons’ Permanent Fund and Gift of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel.


In-person programs and events are not currently scheduled but many activities are available online. Updates and more information can be found on their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and on the site.

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