The creation and appreciation of art is one of the most defining elements of our species. It is how we define and express ourselves as a higher life form. Art galleries are repositories of the collective expression of our human culture and a place to reflect and meditate on this collective definition of humanity. The United States has a great appreciation for this need of the human psyche and has established art galleries both local and national.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. is by far one of the most respected and beloved of this nation’s monuments to collected artwork. It is free to all to visit entire rooms dedicated to various masters such as Rembrandt, Raphael, Titian, and Monet. The Gallery specializes in works from the Middle Ages to the present. While their selection of sculpture is not as impressive as the paintings, the National Gallery of Art is still considered the “official” art museum in the US.
Another world-famous art gallery in the United States is the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Displaying such iconic works as Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, and Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”, the Museum of Modern Art is a truly world-class establishment. Regrettably, the Museum of Modern Art is also one of the most expensive galleries to visit unless you are willing to endure the crowds on “free admission” nights.
Also residing in New York City is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met houses over two million works of art spanning the entirety of human history from Ancient Egyptian art to the most modern contemporary forms of artistic expression. As well as paintings, the Met features vast collections of artifacts from period clothing to musical instruments to armor and weapons from almost every major culture in history. It will require multiple visits to even begin experiencing all the Met has to offer in artistic appreciation.
Another world-famous museum featuring the artwork of the ages is the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Being yet another of the free admission museums in the United States, the Smithsonian is in actuality a complex of many associated museums. Fine art is but a part of the overall collection of more than 136 million items in the inventories of the Smithsonian Institute.
The West Coast is not without its own famous art galleries. The Getty Museum in Los Angeles features not only beautiful exterior gardens but also some of the greatest collections of ancient and medieval artworks. Artwork from the Greek and Roman cultures are of especial interest and importance in the Getty Museum displays.
Dedicated exclusively to 20th Century art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art may not be as large as some of the most famous art galleries in the United States, but makes up for it in quality. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art includes collections by such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Richard Diebenkorn, Paul Klee, Clyfford Still, Marcel Duchamp and Ansel Adams. In the mid 20th Century they also added an “Art in Cinema” series to include works featured in that most mobile of art forms, the movies.