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National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

4.6
#9 of 46 in Museums in Washington DC
Art Museum History Museum
Part of the Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery displays portraits of famous Americans. The gallery began with Charles Willson Peale's private collection of portraits, formerly called American Pantheon or Peale's Collection of Portraits of American Patriots. Since the gallery's inception in the 1960s, the collection has grown exponentially with acquisitions from around the world and a triennial portrait competition. Be sure to visit the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, an architectural marvel with a glass roof. By using our Washington DC travel itinerary maker, you can arrange your visit to National Portrait Gallery and other attractions in Washington DC.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
2,477 reviews
Google
4.5
  • The National Portrait Museum reveals the history of America through some of its main characters. There are images of Presidents, artists, scientists and important personalities. The United States don't forget your history. The Portrait Museum is an example of this. Admission is free.
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  • Had an evening business reception for a large group here. The atmosphere was great! Allowed time to catch up with everyone, time to walk around and watch the amazing portraits with friends, and time a...  more »
  • American history fans will really enjoy this museum. We spent most of our time between the Civil War portraits on the first floor and the presidents on the third floor and enjoyed it a lot. If you hav...  more »
Google
  • Awesome! We only had 1.5 hours before close and we didn't even finish one floor.... And we were going pretty fast. I would estimate about 3 to 4 hours to see it all. We started with the presidential portraits. There is an eclectic collection of paintings, statues and photos. The interior courtyard is pretty amazing as well. Admission is free, but there is a quick bag inspection. It is open later than most museums (7pm). It is across the street from the Spy Museum.
  • Wandered around this museum for a couple of hours one lunch time. Very nice, I was surprised and delighted it had a modern art exhibit on the top floor. A nice indoor/outdoor café area, the roof of which was designed by Norman Foster who did the British Museum in London. Because this place isn't on the Mall it is a bit quieter than the other museums here in DC. Another fantastic DC museum.
  • D.C. has a great museum selection but this is among the best. The two buildings, attached by a tranquil domed outdoor section, are each among the city's most interesting architecture. The exhibits tend to be on the progressive side by the district's standards but there's always a range. If you've never liked portraits before, this is the place to learn how to love them.
  • Free. Beautiful. Art. We checked out the modern art and Presidential portrait exhibits and both were mind-boggling collections of visual wonder. Especially cool in the Presidents exhibit were the 20/20 word cloud pieces.
  • Very interesting museum. The temporary exhibit - Faces of Battle - was fascinating. I really appreciate that we have these museums available to learn about our history with no charge up front. The center atrium is a cool little spot to relax and decompress in between exhibits.

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Where to stay in Washington DC

Most visitors to Washington, D.C., end up in the East End, the old downtown district containing most of the city's major cultural attractions. For a more authentic Washingtonian experience, consider staying at a smaller hotel just a little north or east of this busy area. Neighborhoods outside downtown offer less expensive accommodations and affordable street parking, as well as opportunities to meet more locals and fewer tourists. Alternatively, try a hotel in Georgetown, packed with high-end shops and Colonial architecture.
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