National Gallery of Art
Established in 1941, the National Gallery of Art (NGA) serves the United States of America in a national role by preserving, collecting, exhibiting, and fostering the understanding of works of art, at the highest possible museum and scholarly standards. The NGA's principal duty is to keep its collections intact for future generations and to pass these on in optimum condition. The Gallery limits its active art collecting to paintings, sculpture, and works of art on paper, from the late middle ages to the present, from Europe and the United States. The Gallery's collections are on view in Washington and by loan elsewhere. The NGA also borrows works of art for exhibition in Washington.
COLLECTIONSThe National Gallery of Art's collection is at the heart of the Gallery's mission, following founder Andrew W. Mellon's gift and mandate to establish a national gallery with works of the highest quality. The collection of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts traces the development of European achievements from the 13th century to the present and American art from colonial times to the present. It comprises a comprehensive study of Italian Renaissance art, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci outside Europe, as well as strong holdings of the French Impressionists, the Dutch and Flemish masters, one of the country's most distinguished American collections, and twentieth-century art. The collection also includes prints, drawings, rare books and photographs. Major post-World War II sculpture is installed in a dynamic and richly landscaped setting in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden.The Gallery's paintings collection was enhanced during the fiscal year with a number of notable acquisitions. Additions to the Northern Baroque paintings collection included Jacob van Ruisdael's "Dunes by the Sea", Caspar Netscher's "A Woman Feeding a Parrot, with a Page", and Herman Saftleven's "Imaginary River Landscape". Gifts of modern paintings included "Legendary", the Gallery's first work by Mark Bradford, Yves Klein's "L'eau et le Feu (Water and Fire)", and Jack Whitten's "Sphinx Alley II". The Gallery's modern sculpture collection was augmented with several gifts including "Untitled (Ross in L.A.)" by Felix Gonzales-Torres, Ernst Barlach's bronze, "The Avenger", and "Untitled (Battered Cubes)" by Robert Morris. The Gallery's collection of old master drawings was enhanced with both gifts and purchases of some forty works of art, including the acquisition of five nineteenth-century Italian drawings, an area of significant growth for the collection in recent years. Five Victorian watercolors entered the collection, including William Henry Millais's grand-scale "On the East Lyn, North Devon". Acquisitions of modern drawings included two works by German artist Emil Nolde and Jim Nutt's "Ethelinthesalads". The Gallery acquired 290 old master prints by gift and purchase and five fine illustrated volumes during the fiscal year. Two notable early sixteenth-century woodcut purchases were Hans Lutzelburger's "Battle of the Naked Men and Peasants and Erhard Schon's "Army Train and Death". The modern print collection was strengthened with the acquisition of a rare etching by Salvador Dali, "Fantastic Beach Scene". More than one hundred contemporary prints and sculpture editions were donated by Gemini G.E.L., including works by David Hockney, Jasper Johns, and Elizabeth Murray.The department of photographs acquired more than 485 photographs, including 143 by American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange, most well-known for her compelling studies during the Great Depression. Other acquisitions included numerous important twentieth-century photographs, many by women photographers. Preserving the Gallery's outstanding collection for future generations remains one of the Gallery's critical responsibilities and the primary concern of its conservators and scientific researchers. During the fiscal year, the Gallery's painting, object, photograph, paper, and frame conservators and scientific researchers undertook treatments and examinations and studied and devised new technologies that further the Gallery's mission of preserving the works of art with which it is entrusted. The Gallery's paper conservators completed eleven major treatments, 201 minor treatments, one major examination, and 1,687 minor examinations for exhibitions, loans, and collections maintenance. In addition, conservators examined 835 drawings by Mark Rothko to identify the medium and paper type for a catalogue raisonne of the artist's works on paper.Matting-framing specialists and technicians matted 1,066 prints, drawings and photographs; framed or unframed 913 artworks; prepared 689 custom housings for works of art and library or archival materials; devised special mounts for fifty-eight artworks; built or repaired eighty-two frames; and installed twenty-five artworks in exhibitions. Painting conservators completed thirty-two major treatments, sixty-eight minor treatments, and 124 major examinations involving x-radiography and infrared reflectography. In addition, more than 1,100 paintings were examined and documented in preparation for Gallery exhibitions and loans to other institutions. The photograph conservation department completed nine major treatments, 315 minor treatments and 1,018 condition examinations for exhibitions, loans, and collections maintenance. The textile conservator completed one major treatment, five major examinations, three minor treatments, three minor examinations, and 304 condition examinations for exhibitions, loans, and collection maintenance. Object conservators completed 183 minor treatments and more than 1,000 minor examinations for preservation and to prepare sculptures for loan and exhibition. The division of imaging and visual services continued to document the Gallery's collections and to promote access to high-quality, color-accurate digital images. Master digital files were made for 556 objects, including sixty-four new acquisitions. Technical imaging was provided for ninety-one conservation treatments and publication-quality images were produced for seven Gallery exhibitions and catalogues. In addition to providing expert care for works of art, Gallery conservators and scientists participate in professional meetings and conferences and publish technical papers that make available the results of research undertaken at the Gallery. This research supports and enhances conservation practices around the world.
EDUCATION, GALLERY SHOPS AND PUBLIC PROGRAMSIn addition to its traditional mainstay programs, the education department introduced several new initiatives during the fiscal year, with emphasis on diversity, accessibility, and inclusion in order to better serve the Gallery's visitors. More than five million visitors were welcomed back to the East Building galleries this year after undergoing a three-year expansion and renovation project. Education programs reached almost one million in-house visitors, and outreach through social media was continued, with more than 1.2 million users served on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The Gallery shops continued to offer visitors the opportunity to extend their educational experience and appreciation of art by purchasing exhibition catalogues, art history texts, posters, postcards, and other related merchandise. To coincide with the reopening of the East Building galleries, a team of Gallery educators and curators developed paper and audio guides to enrich the experience of Gallery visitors. The new audio tour includes a diverse group of voices and objects offering perspectives from both curators and artists. The audio tour has been interpreted into American Sign Language, and a new access guide offers accessible routes throughout the East Building. Among the new programs featured during the fiscal year was "Just Us", an open-ended exploration of a few works of art for people with dementia and other forms of memory loss and their care partners. Another new program, "The Art of Care" consists of a series of four sessions designed for medical professionals including social workers, nurses, and nurse practitioners, using art to build skills in visual literacy, communication, empathy, and perspective. More than 10,000 young adults attended "Evenings at the Edge", the new monthly series presented in the East Building from October to April, offering a mix of art, entertainment, tours, and films. The Gallery offered its traditional on-site programs during the fiscal year including family, school, and teacher programs; tours for adults; auditorium lectures; and printed guides to the collections. The multiple-visit High School Seminar program, which has served students from more than ninety-five schools in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary by organizing a panel of past participants to discuss how the seminar has influenced their lives. Art Around the Corner (AAC), the multiple-visit program for underserved area public school children, reached more students than ever this year, with an increase in participation of forty-eight percent over last fiscal year. Almost five hundred students, family, and friends participated in the popular family day associated with the AAC program. The education division's most extensive outreach is realized through its education resources program, offering materials for teachers that include films shown on public television across the country. Thirty-one million people were reached during the fiscal year through this program. In celebration of its seventy-fifth season, the Gallery's music department offered ninety concerts attended by over 21,000 visitors during the fiscal year. Numerous concerts were presented in conjunction with exhibitions, and musical programming was provided for two "Evening at the Edge" events. A new mid-week series, "Washingtonians on Wednesdays", presented fifteen concerts featuring local musicians performing American music. The film programs department presented film and video premieres, restorations, and retrospectives every week during the fiscal year, with numerous films series organized in conjunction with the Gallery's special exhibitions. A key element of the Gallery's commitment to scholarship in art history and the consequent enrichment of higher education across the country is the art research library, one of the finest and most respected art libraries in the world. The comprehensive, in-depth collection comprises more than 400,000 volumes on the history, theory, and criticism of art and architecture, as well as a rare book collection with over 12,000 volumes. The art research library is used by staff, visiting fellows, professors, and scholars associated with the Gallery's Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, as well as by members of the public. The library added 107 new titles to its rare book collection, and acquired 6,659 books and 1,205 auction catalogues during the fiscal year. The reader services department welcomed approximately 1,200 visitors, answered 2,950 inquiries, created 14,655 scans from its rare book collection, and recorded 18,351 unique visits to the library's web pages. The Gallery's division of imaging and visual services posted over 13,322 new and replacement collection images to the Gallery's website, including 371 ultra-resolution images. Website visitors downloaded more than 700,000 open-access images. The media production department continued to provide digital moving image media and audio to the public, staff, docents, and volunteers. Audio content has been accessed more than 400,000 times and video content more than 850,000 times. The department also produced several films during the fiscal year celebrating artists, musicians, and filmmakers.The Gallery's Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, founded in 1979, continued its support and enhancement of scholarship in art and architecture through fellowships, research, scholarly meetings, and publications. This year, the thirty-seventh academic year, the Center welcomed scholars from Canada, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
SPECIAL EXHIBITIONSAn integral aspect of the National Gallery programming is organizing and presenting special exhibitions of major works of art lent from public and private collections around the world, highlighting the breadth of artistic achievement in all its forms. Through collaborative relationships with other nations and museums, special exhibitions bring together great works of art and contribute to scholarship in the field. The Gallery presented twenty-three exhibitions and administered the loan of 1,071 works of art to 224 sites during the fiscal year. Seven exhibitions continued from the previous year: "Intersections: Photographs and Videos from the National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art; "Hubert Robert, 1733-1808; "Recent Acquisitions of Dutch and Flemish Drawings; "Damien Hirst: The Last Supper; "In the Tower: Barbara Kruger; "Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971; and "Photography Reinvented: The Collection of Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker". In addition to the following exhibitions mounted during the fiscal year, the Gallery's Library presented three exhibitions of books and images from its collections."Drawings for Paintings in the Age of Rembrandt" displayed more than 90 drawings and 27 paintings by such renowned Golden Age masters as Aelbert Cuyp, Pieter Jansz Saenredam, and Rembrandt van Rijn. The drawings and paintings revealed the many ways Dutch artists used preliminary drawings in the painting process. A fully illustrated scholarly catalogue accompanied the exhibition."Stuart Davis: In Full Swing" featured over one hundred of the artist's most important, visually complex, jazz-inspired compositions on view, offering a new exploration of his working method. The exhibition was the first to hang the artist's later works alongside the earlier compositions that inspired them. An accompanying thirty-minute film surveyed Davis's career and included original footage shot on location in New York and Gloucester, Massachusetts."Rineke Dijkstra", was a small-scale exhibition displaying the works by the photographer known for her strikingly earnest, unsentimental depictions of young people in large-scale color portraits. The installation featured four of Dijkstra's portraits of adolescents, as well as the 1991 self-portrait that inspired much of her later work. The exhibition was timed to coincide with the installation of "I See a Woman Crying (Weeping Woman)", Dijkstra's three-channel video of British schoolchildren talking about Picasso's painting, "Weeping Woman"."Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence" displayed forty sculptures from three generations of the Della Robbia family and competing Bublioni workshop. The exhibition illustrated the range of sculptural types produced by the workshop - Madonna and Child reliefs, architectural decoration, portraits, household statuettes, and large-scale figures in the round. A richly illustrated catalogue, the first English-language overview of three generations of Della Robbia sculpture, accompanied the exhibition."The Urban Scene: 1920-1950" featured twenty-five black-and-white prints drawn largely from the Gallery's permanent collection, that explored the spectacle of urban modernity. Prints by recognized early twentieth-century artists such as Louis Lozowick and Reginald Marsh, as well as lesser-known artists, were included in this exhibition. "Theaster Gates: The Minor Arts" displayed the artist's works created from his collection of "modern castoffs", a term he uses for materials that technology, the market, and history have left behind. Gates's works of art refer to the decline of urban institutions. The installation was the artist's first solo exhibition in Washington and on the East Coast. An exhibition brochure featured an interview with the artist. "East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Photography" displayed 175 photographs of the eastern part of the United States in the nineteenth century. The exhibition displayed the works of photographers documenting the nation's transition during the course of the century, exploring the untouched wilderness, the devastation of the Civil War, and the dramatic transformation of industrialization. "The Woodner Collections: Master Drawings from Seven Centuries" featured one hundred drawings from the collections of the Ian Woodner family dating from the fourteenth to the twentieth century. The exhibition included drawings executed by outstanding draftsmen such as Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Durer, Raphael, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Edgar Degas, and Pablo Picasso, among many others."Frederic Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism" marked the 175th anniversary of the artist's birth. The exhibition displayed seventy-five paintings and two sketchbooks from private and public collections in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The most comprehensive retrospective of his career, the exhibition featured nearly three-quarters of the artist's body of work. A free audio tour, a digital recreation of the artist's sketchbook, and a monitor displaying compositions that Bazille later painted over, made visible though x-radiography, accompanied the exhibition. "America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting" brought together sixty-eight paintings that represented some of the best and most unusual examples of French art of the era held by American museums. The works made their way to museums and private collections from the collection of Joseph Bonaparte, elder brother of Napoleon I, after he fled to America in 1815. In addition to a slideshow of fifteen paintings, the Gallery's website featured an illustrated timeline that chronicled the ownership history of nearly fifty paintings that journeyed from France to the United States.Drawn solely from the Gallery's collection, "Matthias Mansen: Configurations" displayed a series of thirteen prints created in the tradition of woodblock printing, by transforming pieces of scavenged wood - discarded floorboards or fragments of abandoned furniture - into printing blocks, which Mansen progressively carves and recarves."Edvard Munch: Color in Context", exhibited twenty-one prints that considered the choice, combinations, and meaning of color in light of theosophist principles. The majority of the prints in the exhibition came from the Epstein Family Collection, the largest and finest gathering of the artist's graphic work outside of his native Norway."Posing for the Camera: Gifts from Robert B. Menschel" featured some seventy photographs and examined the many forms portraits have taken throughout the history of the medium. Indicative of the theme, a larger-than-life photomural of "Light Artillery, Sergeant" by Oliver Harvey Willard greeted visitors at the entrance.