A bronze thinking rabbit, a stainless steel tree, and a cherry-red abstract horse—these may sound like characters from a modern-day version of Alice in Wonderland, but are actually highlights from the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The park, located on the National Mall, is lined with canopy trees and clustered with shrubs and flowers that provide a refuge for visitors suffering from museum fatigue.
The public is encouraged to stroll among contemporary sculptures by artists that include Lichtenstein and Calder or to dine on treats from the park's Pavilion Café. The Sculpture Garden is open year-round; visitors can enjoy free Friday night jazz concerts by the fountain during warmer months or skate on it when it's converted into an ice rink during Winter.
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A Night on Ice
I can’t skate. Not that I don’t want to, I just can’t. The second after I’m upright, I’m butt down. But my lack of ability to glide across ice does not deter from tagging along with my friends as they enjoy a night of fun at the Sculpture Garden Skating Rink. The rink is located adjacent to the West Wing of the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art.
In the daytime, skaters whiz by sculptural pieces by famous artists the likes of Alexander Calder and David Smith. At night, the sculptures are hidden in the dark of the trees, but the backdrop that is the National Archives building comes to light. There’s always music in the air, and on Thursday nights it’s provided by live DJs spinning music from the 60s to current day.
You can find me sitting on one of the stone benches, watching my friends glide by and listening to the music. Every few rounds, they’ll shout out to me to see if I’m okay. I know they’re having fun! If it’s really cold, you’ll find me nestled under the warmth of a blanket, clutching a warm cup of tea poured from my Thermos. I come prepared. In no time, I’m lost in my own thoughts.
On weekends, the gang heads to the rink’s café for an après skate bite and a cup of hot chocolate. All in all, it’s a lot of fun….even if you don’t skate.
I found out tonight that the rink offers skating lessons, so I’m going to sign up. Maybe after a few lessons, I can join my friends on the ice—though I'll always be content to just sit on the sidelines and watch.
Missing the quaint boulevards of Paris and the romantic strolls along a sunny rue? How about Paris in the nation's capital? There's so much culture in this Chocolate City that one can't help but feel transported far away. Maybe not quite to France, but the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art will afford you with such an eclectic experience of iconic sculptures and artistic displays that you really won't long to go abroad. At least not for now...