Museum spotlight: National Portrait Gallery

A statue of Alexander Graham Bell the inventor of the telephone.

Almaz abedje

A statue of Alexander Graham Bell the inventor of the telephone.

Advertisement

Housed in the old Patent Office Building  on eighth St NW & F St NW, The National Portrait Gallery is located in one of Washington D.C.’s oldest buildings. The building opened up in 1836 and was marked as a historic landmark. It underwent an extensive six-year renovation in 2000.

Praised by Walt Whitman as, “the noblest of Washington buildings,” this museum is known for its modern architecture and original glory, with a 346-seat underground auditorium, a conservation lab and an art storage area. The National Portrait Gallery is known for the thousands of portraits of American leaders and other people who have impacted the nation.

The old Patent Office building is home to both the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. When you walk into this historical building, go down the right hallway to find breathtaking portraits of famous Americans.

If you continue to walk down this hallway, you will find several ravishing exhibits, ranging from the Civil War Era to World War I to famous pop singers of the current day.

Walking down the left hallway will bring you to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which houses many oil paintings as well as articulate landscape pieces. This part of the building also contains intricate wood carvings and statues.

“I really liked how the artists captured the essence and purity of their subject,” senior Nancy Zheng said.

One of the most popular exhibits is the “Eye Pop” exhibit which holds some of the most prominent pieces in the museum. This exhibit is home to hundreds of works surrounding influential people of the 21st century.

The portrait of Michelle Obama was a crowd-drawer. Due to the use of black and white contrast in the painting and the artist’s ability to emphasize the powerful color pop in the background without taking attention away from the well-detailed first lady.

The famous singer Katy Perry is realistically portrayed to the point where it could almost be a photograph. The artist captured her makeup and face nearly perfectly and added a crazy outfit and headband that matches the 31 year-old singer’s outgoing personality.

One of the first major paintings you will see when walking into the “Eye Pop” exhibit is an astounding piece detailing actor Brad Pitt. This painting accentuates his long hair and rugged physique.

“This piece was by far my favorite in the museum. As a big movie fan, it was really interesting to see the artist’s perspective of not only his subject’s physical features, but also the emotions he felt as well,” Zheng said. “The contrast between light and dark that were used also emphasizes the little details, like the white hairs in his beard and the wrinkles on his forehead. It was truly a breathtaking work of art.”

This destination should definitely be on your to-do list if you’re looking for a popular tourist spot in D.C.