National Portrait Gallery

8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA

An undulating steel and glass canopy wows visitors who enter the Kogod Courtyard. Inside you’ll find diners from the museum’s café, tourists soaking their weary feet in the shallow fountain running across the space, and students taking advantage of free Wi-Fi in the light and airy setting. The modern roof seals the center of the old Patent Office Building, currently shared by the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. Architect Norman Foster designed the roof to have minimal impact on the building by creating a support system that prevents direct contact and weight placement on it. Unlike most of the other Smithsonian Museums located on the Mall, this gem is found in the busy Penn Quarter of downtown D.C. It is my favorite place to bring visitors, not only for the impressive courtyard space, but also for the preserved architecture of the patent offices on the top floor. Check the Smithsonian’s website for special courtyard workshops, concerts, or events. The museum is right near the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro on the green, yellow, and red lines.

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Megatron/Matrix at the National Portrait Gallery

The best part about Washington, D.C. and their museums is that it’s filled with pieces that are so unique in craftsmanship, it ultimately provides an era for everyone. At the National Portrait Gallery in Chinatown, this particular work by Nam June Paik uses 215 screens to display a moving image that collectively create two larger moving images

Portraits and Contemporary Arts

Everyone visits the large Smithsonian museums when they come to DC but this interesting combination of the Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum which features contemporary art is a wonderful blend of old and new. Grab lunch in the beautiful courtyard and take the Victorian splendor of the Great Hall.

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