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“Must see in DC”

National Portrait Gallery
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Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour of Washington DC: Monuments, Landmarks and Memorials
Ranked #16 of 432 things to do in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: Visitors can view the portraits of all the U.S. presidents.
Annandale, Virginia
Level Contributor
46 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Must see in DC”
Reviewed 20 February 2012

Fantastic museum that is attached to National Museum of American Art. The Presidents exhibit is always fun to see and no matter how many times I go through it, I always find something new to love.

Visited February 2012
Thank dolefan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reno, Nevada
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Go see Thomas Moran!”
Reviewed 19 February 2012

His 3 portraits of the Grand Canyon, which took years to paint, are breathtaking. This is an all-day museum to make sure that you can see everything and take it all in.

Visited February 2012
Thank Pat H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Burlington, North Carolina
Level Contributor
24 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Worth a stop in the Chinatown area”
Reviewed 19 February 2012

Visited with our niece. Varied exhibits. Take your time. Don't hurry. There is a lot of American history in these portaits.

Visited March 2011
Thank rtrain4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bethesda, Maryland
Level Contributor
113 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Walk through history...”
Reviewed 16 February 2012

You see so many paintings you already know by heart...but they are so wonderful in person. Like walking through rooms filled with those who shaped our history. Always fun.

Thank Marsha M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
1,096 reviews
603 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 561 helpful votes
“From George Washington to George W. Bush, all in lovely oils!”
Reviewed 14 February 2012

Since my girlfriend and I were coming to Washington, DC during Black History Month, I was very happy to hear that the National Portrait Gallery was holding an exhibit of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders "Black List," a series of photographs of some of the most noteworthy African-Americans, who have contributed to our culture in numerous ways.

On the way to this exhibit, we had to pass through the collection of portraits of all our presidents, which is wonderful. Starting with the iconic portraits of George Washington by Stuart and Peale and then John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and all the others, it is really wonderful to see. As I was looking at paintings of some of the presidents we hardly think about, Franklin Pierce and Zachary Taylor, I heard a small boy telling his father what he knew about them - "oh yes, this one was the 11th president, from such and such a year..." - a very sweet moment, and you could tell the boy was both in awe of seeing the portraits of the presidents, and proud of himself or remembering what he had learned in school.

Bridging the gap between those galleries and the ones holding the "Black List" was a series of all paintings and photographs of all the iconic figures in our recent history of civil rights advances - not just people like Dr. King and Rosa Parks who have advanced the cause of African-Americans, but also Native Americans and women who have been instrumental in advancing their causes.

Finally, I arrived at the goal and reason for visiting the Portrait Gallery - the Black List. I have seen the accompanying documentary of part one of this "List" on HBO, so I expected to see photographs of people like Colin Powell and Laurence Fishburne. It was great to see who has been added for the second and third parts of this series. But there are still some glaring omissions from the list - for example, none of Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier are there. The list would have more gravity if more of the truly seminal figures in African-American culture who are living were included.

The National Portrait Gallery's building also contains the Smithsonian Museum of American Art - in fact, the two museums are intertwined. We ventured into the American Art Museum a bit, seeing an Annie Liebovitz exhibit and also taking a look at a series of paintings of Native Americans from the 19th century which is part of the collection. This museum also contains things like Frederick Bartholde's 2-foot high model for the Statue of Liberty.

Visited February 2012
Thank Charming_Karl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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