national gallery of art

Sunshine is plentiful this time of year in Washington, DC, and so we like to encourage guests and travelers to take as much advantage of the warmth as possible. From walking the National Mall, to visiting the Anacostia River, there are myriad ways to embrace local culture while being in the great outdoors. One of our favorite examples of such attractions is The National Gallery of Art’s captivating Sculpture Garden. Home to gorgeous works of art, it’s a must-stop for any culturalist visiting the city. Here’s our guide to National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.

The Work

First and foremost, the main attractions at The Sculpture Garden are the works of art, which have been expertly chosen and curated for a magnificent viewing experience. The sculptures range from fantastical depictions of people and arachnids, to iconic block-letter statues, to more abstract works—all of which created by renowned artists from around the world.

These are a few of our favorite works on display:

Spider by Louise Bourgeois

This massive spider is a work from Louise Bourgeois, who frequently turned to the animal for her art, in which the maternal spider often represented themes of childhood memories. Those who are fans of Bourgeois’s works will revel in seeing this massive arachnid up close.

AMOR by Robert Indiana

Those who have traveled in New York City and Philadelphia may be familiar with the block-letter LOVE sculptures by artist Robert Indiana. A similar work by the sculptor is located at The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, this one exploring the same concept in Spanish.

Chair Transformation Number 20B by Lucas Samaras

For over 50 years, Lucas Samaras has created abstract, otherworldly sculptures that trick the eye and bend the mind. The Chair Transformation Number 20B work on display at The Sculpture Garden is an excellent example, as it stacks bright, aqua-blue chairs on top of one another at an angle to create an intriguing visual.

Sculpture Garden Tours

You can get background information, years of creation, and more information on every piece on display at The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, by checking out the Garden Tour Page on the institution’s website here. On the same website, you can download a PDF that includes a map and guide to The Sculpture Garden, giving you all you need to enjoy a free, and informative tour upon arrival.

The Pavillion Cafe

After all of the sightseeing at The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, you might want to sit down at the onsite Pavillion Cafe to enjoy views of the art with some food and conversation. The outdoor seating here provides panoramic looks at the Sculpture Garden, and there are also indoor tables for rainy or chilly days. The summer menu includes an eclectic collection of entree-sized salads, hot entrees, toasted sandwiches, flatbreads, cold sandwiches, and a children’s menu. Check out the page here for specific examples.

Jazz In The Garden

This May, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden embarked on its 19th season of Jazz in the Garden. This beloved free concert series, contrary to its name, is constantly pushing the boundaries of jazz, and makes for one of the most eclectic concert series in all of Washington, DC.

Some of the styles that have been performed here before include Brazilian Folk, Reggae, World Steam Punk, African Fusion Jazz, Cuban Charanga, and Django Guitar. We’ve already enjoyed shows from Robort Curto’s Forro’s For All, Futurist, and Billy Price this season. Later in the summer, we’ll have acts including Miles Stiebel, Incendio, and Cuban Charanga sensation Son del Caribe.

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