30 December 2008

National Portrait Gallery

Lots of people know the National Gallery of Art, but not as many know the National Portrait Gallery, which is housed with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It's a bit off the mall and the other museums, but it's well worth the visit. The collections are housed in one of the oldest public buildings in DC, begun in 1836, which was restored and refitted - gloriously - for museum use.The original Greek revival sandstone building, a treasure in its own right,was added onto over the years in grey granite to form a quadrangle. This was dramatically roofed (British Museum, eat your heart out). The building itself was returned to its original architectural elements, and the third floor, which was decorated in Victorian splendor, was restored. What was apparently a library or records office is now the public study center:which includes some American folk art penguins (no, I have no idea what their story is):A long corridor of offices and central lobby now holds the 20th century collection.In that collection is a room dedicated to this installation of some 200 TV sets. It's flabbergasting!
For those of you who liked the last video, here's another:

The gallery is another of the many less-known treasures of Washington.


  1. I'm thinking of a new location for the those in the realm looking for a retreat, Camp Hamster.

  2. Someone has to come to the defence of the British Museum. We have an amazing library (the original Reading Room) under the canopy or glass roof. You have a room of TVs. The Hamster Minister of Education will doubtless have some comment to make.

    We need a conservatory in the middle of the museum because it rains so often. Do you need one so that it feels like a mall? Consumption, consumption, consumption!

    Grudgingly, one must admit it does look rather fine and is contemporaneous with the BM.

    Happy New Year from London.

  3. At least the TV's are ours, as opposed to the Elgin Marbles, for instance. I'm just sayin'...

  4. The folk art penguins are fabulous! LOL. I wish they COULD talk and tell their story.

    The building is magnificent. I swear I've never been as interested in visiting DC as I am now. If I come visit you, will you please promise to drag me around to some of these places and be my personal tour guide?

  5. *SOMEONE* - someone ELSE showed her love of your country through a life changing decision yesterday. Check it out!