The National Gallery of Art - West Building
Not to be outdone by the priceless works of art it contains, the actual building which is the National Gallery of Art commands its own following. The National Gallery of Art was established in 1937 for the American people by a joint resolution of Congress. Financier Andrew W. Mellon donated quite a large share of funds and art collections. Most of the collections that I fell in love with were donated by the Mellons.
Andrew Mellon began his private collection of the old masters sculptures and paintings during the First World War but then decided to change focus a bit and and create a new national gallery in the US. As I was doing some research on the background and history of the building, I found some interesting facts. In 1937, Andrew Mellon formally announced that he was going to create a new, self-governing gallery that was to be separate from the Smithsonian. This announcement was postponed a bit due to his tax evasion trial. This building however took its old name "National Gallery of Art' while the Smithsonian's already existing gallery would take on a different name. It is now known as the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
It was designed by John Russell Pope, who later also designed the Jefferson Memorial (one of my favorite places in DC). It is made up of pink Tennessee marble and designed in a neoclassical style of architecture. Grand and formidable, that original structure still stands and when it was built, it was the largest marble structure in the world. Sadly, both Mellon and Pope died two months after the excavation started.
I did not make it to to the East Building since all the exhibits and collections I wanted to see yesterday were in the West Building. Besides, I did not see all that I had come to see since I spent a very long time in the room that held the works of Monet, Degas and Van Gogh :)
The rotunda in the earlier picture was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. Pretty cool, eh?
It was a virtual feast for the eyes to not only behold the extensive collections of art and sculptures by European masters and the medieval period, but to also take in the beautiful architecture of the building itself.
When you do visit, please make it a point to visit the West Building where I got to see Leonardo da Vinci's painting, Michelangelo's David-Apollo sculpture, and gorgeous paintings by Monet, to name a few. I love living in Virginia and so close to The District!