Whether you are in town visiting or just haven’t gotten around to exploring D.C.’s art galleries, the city is home to several free fine art exhibits.
The Nation’s Capital is home to countless museums, art galleries and exhibits that can fill any itinerary. Most don’t charge much for entry, however a few District art galleries showcase some of the best art in the world and history free of charge. Below is a list of five of the best art galleries in town that won’t cost you a dime.
The American Art Museum
The American Art Museum, located in Penn Quarter, is housed by the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture and shares the space with the National Portrait Gallery. The building has a central courtyard which separates the two museums and a glass roof designed by the famous Norman Foster. This art gallery has been at its current location since 1968 and brings together the artwork of three centuries of American artists. On the first floor, visitors can check out the folk art collection; American impressionism, antebellum and Civil War art on the second floor; and contemporary artwork on the third floor.
The National Portrait Gallery
On the opposite end of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture is the National Portrait Gallery. This gallery displays works that provide a look at the art of portraiture. Much of the artwork is of famous and influential Americans both dead and alive. Portraits of Rosa Parks and Fred Astaire are displayed alongside other historical figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The section labeled “American Origins 1600-1900” takes visitors through an American historical period in 17 art galleries and the “American Presidents” section includes all of the nation’s past presidents. The third floor houses the “20th
-Century Americans” gallery section which include portraits of popular historical figures such as Muhammed Ali and Marilyn Monroe.
The American Art Museum and National Portrait Art Galleries are located on Eighth and F Streets, call 202-633-1000 for more info
National Gallery of Art
The most well-known gallery on this list, the National Gallery of Art houses one of the world’s best and most famous art collections which includes sculpture, paintings and more. The National Gallery’s art collection dates back as far as the 13th
century, the gallery is also home to a large collection of contemporary art in the East Building.
In the West building you can view the 19th
century French gallery, home to artwork by Cezanne, Renoir and Monet as well as several others. On the building’s west side you can view the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Americas, “Ginevra de’ Benci.” The gallery is also home to a bookstore and dining area.
The National Gallery of Art is located on Constitution Avenue between Third and Seventh streets NW, call 202-737-4215 for more info
National Museum of African Art
The National Museum of African Art originally was a private institution; currently the museum’s collection includes carved figures, paintings by modern artists, jewelry, metalwork and ceramics.
The National Museum of African Art is located at 950 Independence Avenue, SW. Call 202-633-1000 for more info
Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
In these art galleries visitors will find a large collection of Asian Art. In the Freer Gallery there are 25,000 objects while the collection contains pieces from over a span of 6,000 years, including Japanese ink drawings, Chinese paintings, Korean ceramics and ancient Buddhist sculptures. The Sackler Gallery, meanwhile, is home to Chinese bronzes and Iranian metal works.
Located on 12th Street and Jefferson Drive, SW; 1050 Independence Avenue, SW; Call 202-633-1000 for more info.