Press Release  April 26, 2021

National Gallery of Art Will Reopen West Building in May

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Photo Francesco Bini.

The National Gallery of Art, West Building interior. Washington, D.C.

Washington, DC — The National Gallery of Art, Washington, announced that the West Building will reopen to the public on Friday, May 14. Daily hours will be 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and capacity will be limited to allow for social distancing. Free, timed passes will be required. Passes will be released each Monday at 10:00 a.m. for the following week, starting on Monday, May 10. All previous health and safety guidelines and measures will remain in place, including requirements for masks, social distancing, and credit and debit card payments as well as enhanced cleanings. Visitors will be able to enter only through the 6th Street entrance, but all exits will be open.

Most galleries on both floors will be open, with limited exceptions for galleries that do not allow for social distancing. Visitors can also expect other changes since the National Gallery was last open in November 2020.

Rotunda Welcome Kiosk

The West Building Rotunda will feature a new welcome kiosk. Visitors will be able to customize their experience by browsing thematic tours of the Main Floor that feature popular topics and artists. As a COVID-19 precaution, the kiosk’s interactive screen pioneers new gesture-based technology to offer guests a safe, touchless option for exploring our collections. The welcome kiosk is made possible by the Teresa & H. John Heinz III Educational Endowment Fund and a grant from the Alice L. Walton Foundation.

Courtesy National Gallery of Art

Visitors enjoy John Quidor’s The Return of Rip Van Winkle, 1849. oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1942.8.10.

Carrie Mae Weems Acquisition and Installation

Created almost a century apart, Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s The Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial (1900) and Carrie Mae Weems’s Untitled (1996, printed 2020) speak to our nation’s struggle to achieve racial equity—and to the strength and sacrifice of those who have continued to wage the battle. The National Gallery has recently installed the newly acquired seven-part series of inkjet prints by Weems facing Saint-Gaudens’s sculpture. The installation will be on view in Gallery 66 on the Main Floor of the West Building.

Garden Café Redesign

The Garden Café, located on the Ground Floor near the 6th Street entrance, will debut an enhanced design and new concept. The redesign is inspired by café culture and complements the grand architecture of the West Building. The café will serve authentic La Colombe espresso and cappuccino, fresh pastries, and grab-and-go items. The café will offer indoor seating at twenty-five percent dining capacity and will only accept credit and debit cards.

Sculpture Garden

The Sculpture Garden is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Masks are required for all visitors ages two and up and capacity is limited to allow for social distancing. The Pavilion Café is operating at twenty-five percent capacity indoors and also offers carryout and advanced online ordering.

Looking Ahead: East Building

The East Building will reopen in June. Though the building currently remains closed, visitors are invited to stop by the 4th Street entrance, where they will find Kay Rosen’s SORRY (2020–2021), a temporary installation designed to enliven the exterior space while the entrance undergoes renovations.

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