The National Gallery of Art was high on our list of must-see places while we were in DC. It may seem daunting…er crazy…er ambitious…to take children to an art museum, but we really had a wonderful time. First, you should know there are two buildings that make up the National Gallery of Art–the (historical) West and (recently renovated) East building. Both are free to visit. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Start by visiting the information desk and pick up any of the Family Guides the museum offers. They are ideal for children 6+. Be sure to bring pens or crayons with you. We suggest picking up the Collection Highlights (West Building) map from the Information Desk as well. Depending on how much time you have, and how long you think you’re kids will last, this will help you to hit the main art pieces in a timely and efficient manner (and trust us–if you try to see every piece, you will be there all day). We blocked out around two hours and that seemed about right for our 5-, 7-,and 10-year-olds. We were able to view all the pieces we wanted to and then some. A little prep work will also help make this a more meaningful experience for your children. Our kids’ school has a “Meet the Masters” program that covers many of the artists we saw. In addition, we also checked out some books from our local library.
The East Building is a short walk from the West Building. It is home to more contemporary and modern pieces (like Picasso). Highlights for us from both buildings included: Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe. Visit here for a list of artists found at the museum and links for PDFs with more information about them. One last tip: give your kids a snack before your visit. There are some cafes throughout the museums as well, but ‘hangry’ is a real thing–so prevention is key 🙂
What are your tips and tricks for visiting the National Gallery of Art with kids?