Scenes from a Visit to the American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery

I have said many a time that one of the best things about DC is the accessibility to so much extraordinary art and culture. The Smithsonian, obviously, contributes significantly to that, with world-class museums offering both free admission and programming for all ages that is enriching, enlightening, and fun.

We took advantage of that this past weekend at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which was hosting a special Family Day to celebrate the work of Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo and the Tamayo: The New York Years exhibit currently on view. The event included crafts, face painting, and fantastic performances in the Kogod Courtyard along with other activities connected to his art.

A lively Mexican dance performance by Maru Montero Dance Company

It doesn’t always take a special event to get us to the Museum. In fact, it’s one we often pop into when we’re in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. Housed in the same beautiful building as the National Portrait Gallery, many of the collections in both parts have always appealed to the kids — vibrant contemporary art, large installations, and portraits of distinguished Americans in a variety of mediums easily capture their interest. And we all love hanging out in the Kogod Courtyard, undoubtedly one of the prettiest indoor places in the city.

This “Woman Eating” always gets their attention

You can read more about all of it in this write-up from a few years ago (pretty much all of it still relevant now). And the NPG opened Explore! With the Portrait Gallery last year giving children extra experiences of portraiture in a gallery full of hands-on activities.

The space itself is magnificent

The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery are located at 8th & F Streets NW, hours are 11:30am – 7pm, and admission is free. (I noted the hours, as they are different from the rest of the Smithsonian museums). Before you go, get more of a glimpse from our recent visit in the images below!

Looks like driftwood, made of metal

One looking at the art, one learning about it on a digital kiosk

Life imitating art?

Street view from a beautiful stained glass window

Be sure to look up when you’re in the Great Hall

Portrait of Mia Hamm in the Hall of Champions got this soccer player’s attention

Billie Jean King was of particular interest after watching “Battle of the Sexes”


“Mom, quit taking pictures and let us look at the art” 😉

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Filed under Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Weekdays, Weekend

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