Besides all the local news, gossip and places to meet for drinks, there are nationally recognized collections of art. And they’re free!
The National Gallery of Art (downtown at the corner of 7th and Constitution, NW) is a huge deal, but I’m afraid DC residents take it for granted. Of course all museums should be free (duh), but this one really is special.
Besides free admission and a priceless collection, the Gallery gives free tours all day every day. If you speak another language, a tour in Spanish, French, or Russian might be just the thing to help you practice! And if there aren’t very many people, it can turn into more of a free lesson.
The exhibitions and the permanent collection are very well done. After my tour in Spanish, I was all about the emotional aspect of modern art. I backpedaled and visited the Canaletto exhibit in the East Wing.
Classical painting is all about representation (and modern art is about how the viewer feels… or whatever), so when I got up close to some of the Canalettos, I noticed that the closer you get, the better it is! With modern art, the farther away you stand, the better it is. Zing!
Anyway, it’s a neat little dichotomy: classical versus modern. With modern art you can answer, My kid could do that! with But he didn’t. With these classical paintings, it’s pretty much No one can do that!
The exhibit runs through May 30 and features not only Canalettos but other painters of Venice (not necessarily Venetian painters), comparing the way each paints a huge scene in such minute detail. It’s depressing is what it is.
So for the most part, this is an exhibit for art or Venice enthusiasts. And tourists. Oh, so many tourists in DC right now. And they move so slowly!