The National Gallery of Art, and its attached Sculpture Garden, is a national art museum in Washington, D.C., United States, located on the National Mall, between 3rd and 9th Streets, at Constitution Avenue NW. Open to the public and free of charge, the museum was privately established in 1937 for the American people by a joint resolution of the United States Congress. Andrew W. Mellon donated a substantial art collection and funds for construction. The core collection includes significant works of art donated by Paul Mellon, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, Lessing J. Rosenwald, Samuel Henry Kress, Rush Harrison Kress, Peter Arrell Browne Widener, Joseph E. Widener, and Chester Dale. The Gallery’s collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, medals, and decorative arts traces the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas and the largest mobile created by Alexander Calder.
The Gallery’s campus includes the original neoclassical West Building, designed by John Russell Pope, linked underground to the modern East Building, designed by I. M. Pei, and the 6.1-acre (25,000 m2) Sculpture Garden. The Gallery often presents temporary special exhibitions spanning the world and the history of art. It is one of the largest museums in North America.
For the breadth, scope, and magnitude of its collections, the National Gallery is widely considered to be one of the greatest museums in the United States of America, often ranking alongside the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. Of the top three art museums in the United States by annual visitors, it is the only one with no admission fee. In 2021 it attracted 1,704,606 visitors and ranked fifth on the list of most visited art museums worldwide. EZ DC Junk Removal
Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh banker and Treasury Secretary from 1921 until 1932, began gathering a private collection of old master paintings and sculptures during World War I. During the late 1920s, Mellon decided to direct his collecting efforts toward establishing a new national gallery for the United States. In 1930, partly for tax reasons, Mellon formed the A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, which was to be the legal owner of works intended for the gallery. In 1930–1931, the Trust made its first major acquisition, 21 paintings from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg as part of the Soviet sale of Hermitage paintings, including such masterpieces as Raphael’s Alba Madonna, Titian’s Venus with a Mirror, and Jan van Eyck’s Annunciation.
In 1929 Mellon had contacted the recently appointed Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Charles Greeley Abbot. Mellon was established in 1931 as a Commissioner of the Institution’s National Gallery of Art. When the director of the Gallery retired, Mellon asked Abbot not to appoint a successor, as he proposed to endow a new building with funds to expand the collections. However, Mellon’s trial for tax evasion, centering on the Trust and the Hermitage paintings, caused the plan to be modified. In 1935, Mellon announced in The Washington Star his intention to establish a new gallery for old masters, separate from the Smithsonian. When asked by Abbot, he explained that the project was in the hands of the Trust and that its decisions were partly dependent on “the attitude of the Government towards the gift.”
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