Against the backdrop of these turbulent political times, lies an artistic oasis surrounded by natural beauty.
Located on 6.1 acres between 7th and 9th Streets in Washington DC, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden features stunning modern art in the tranquil setting of a city botanical park.
When the first designs were created for the National Mall by Charles Pierre L’Enfant in 1790, a landscaped public garden was designed to be on the north side of Washington D.C.
In 1966, the White House announced plans to add sculpture to the site of this landscape garden as an outdoor extension of the National Art Gallery.
The sculpture garden was designed by landscape architect Laurie Olin and opened to the public in 1999.
The garden features 21 modern art sculptures by a variety of artists from around the world.
Some pieces, such as “An Entrance into Metropolitan Paris” by Hector Guimard, were created as early as 1902. Other pieces are mid-century modern, such as the classic “Typewriter Eraser”, created by Claes Oldenburg.
Oldenburg came to the attention of the art world in the 1960s and 1970s for his visualized public monuments based on common objects such as clothespins, scissors, and the now-defunct typewriter eraser.
Pieces like the breathtaking ‘Graft’, created by artist Roxy Paine, were added to the garden’s collection in the early and mid-2000s. The ‘Graft’, which was added to the collection in 2008, features a shiny, life-size stainless steel tree that relates to the many mature, natural trees in the garden.
Botanically speaking, there are 33 different varieties of trees in the garden, including elms, magnolias, oaks and cedars.
Plantings of perennials, groundcovers, shrubs and annual flowering plants complement the pristine terrain that surrounds these magnificent works of art in the Garden Collection.
In the center of the garden is a monumental water fountain which turns into a skating rink during the winter months. In the background of the fountain area, the impressive National Archives building can be seen, making it a nice place to sit and relax and enjoy the view of our nation’s capital city. .
To maintain all this natural beauty, the National Gallery of Art has its own department of horticulture. This department not only maintains the lush beauty of the sculpture garden, but also the grounds around the museum, including the famous tulip display around the fountain in early spring and the recent magnolia and cherry tree plantings next to the east building. of the museum.
While the outdoor gardens bloom in the warm months, staff members are busy in the National Gallery’s on-site greenhouses, preparing flora for display in the museum during the winter months. Tall flowering hibiscuses, weeping willows, Christmas poinsettias, and Easter lilies are just a few of the many plants that come and go from the museum for display throughout the year.
The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden reopened to the public on June 20 after a closure due to the pandemic.
In line with COVID-19 restrictions, the garden has reduced its daily opening hours to 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is limiting capacity with only one door open for entry and another for exit to encourage proper flow for social distancing.
The ground floor galleries of the National Gallery of Art’s West Building have also recently reopened to the public. Admission to the garden and gallery is free, but timed passes are required for the inner gallery and can be obtained on their website. www.nag.gov.
Last week, a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest took place at the National Mall, which is a stone’s throw from the peaceful Sculpture Garden. While political views, hatred and fear still divide our great nation, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, with its peaceful ambience and natural beauty surrounded by centuries of our great nation’s history, offers the seed of hope to plant for a better future. .