Historical site or museum (National Gallery of Art)
Historical Museum (National Gallery of Art)
The National Gallery of Art in Washington is my favorite museum and there are several causes for that. Firstly, the entrance is free and a magnificent collection of paintings and sculptures are available for everyone to see. Secondly, one can simply spend a good time wandering the halls and enjoying the works of art, sitting near the fountain or in the cafeteria. The National Gallery of Arts is considered to be one of the best art museums in the world. Its accessibility draws many visitors. So the world-class art museum offers one to come and slowly admire paintings. American museums are rarely associated with the old European art, but in the case of the National Gallery, this opinion is wrong. This young museum contains one of the finest art collections in the world. The core of its collection is paintings, sold Hermitage in the 30s of the 20th century. The museum staff is particularly proud of Italian Renaissance painting collection. The pearls of its collection are works by Raphael, Titian, Botticelli, Bellini, etc. Of course, tourists are sure to stop by the Portrait of Ginevra by Leonardo da Vinci. This museum is huge: there are paintings and sculptures, graphics and photography. The museum also features the works of American artists and European masters. A large collection of works by Mary Cassatt and works of contemporary Americans, for example, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol are presented.
The first thing that should be underlined is that the National Gallery contains one of the largest world European collections of paintings. It is so amazing that the National Gallery opened its doors on April 9, 1839. However, many historians believe that the date of its foundation is May 1824, when the collection of Angersteyns paintings was acquired (Govier, 2009). At the very beginning, there were only 38 paintings. Now, it includes more than 2,300 paintings dating from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th century (Official Site). A visitor can get acquainted with all major schools of Western European painting - from artists of the late Middle Ages and the Italian Renaissance to French Impressionists - including such names as Titian, Monet, Velazquez , Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
The purchase of the first collection was a signal for other art lovers to the completion of the new gallery. First of all, it joined the collection of Sir George Beaumont, who took active part in organizing the gallery (landscape of Canaletto House stonemason, composition of B. West Orestes and Pylades, Wilkie Blind Fiddler , Rubens landscape Landscape with Castle Walls. With the Beaumont gift, the number of paintings in the gallery grew to 54 (Govier, 2009)
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Years passed and since 1843, an unprecedented prosperity and rapid growth of the new collection of the National Gallery started. By this year, the catalog listed 187 pictures. Paintings, acquired by the National Gallery, exceeded 3,000 by the outbreak of the World War II.
Among the most significant acquisitions of this period, one should include 192 paintings by old masters received by Seltings bequest in 1910 (seven works of Corot, a number of landscape painters of the Barbizon school: Rousseau, Dupre, Diaz and Daubigny), by Lanes bequest in 1915 (numerous paintings of French artists of the 19th century), and by Layards bequest (many interesting works of the 15th century). During the First World War, the Gallery received paintings by Manet, Degas and the Impressionists, (Portrait of Eva Gonzales , Music in the Tuileries Manets Umbrellas by Renoir , Don Quixote Daumier , Portrait of Philippe dOrleans Ingres). During World War II, the National Gallery as well as many museums in Europe experienced a time of hardship. Only in May 1945, the exhibition Forty three masterpieces heralded the revival days of peace and the restoration of the gallery, and, at the end of 1946, the National Gallery was reopened to the public (Govier, 2009).
In 1992, Queen Elizabeth II officially opened a large extension to the western part of the Gallery Sainsbury Wing, which exhibited the paintings of the old masters. In addition to exhibition halls and rooms for temporary exhibitions, it provides a large lecture hall, meeting rooms, cinema, audiovisual, restaurant, shop service, etc.
I was impressed by the fact that as education, the National Gallery suggested using CD- player. It gives an opportunity to get random access to audio commentaries in English to almost every picture on the main floor and a review of each hall. There is also an audio guide to 30 greatest paintings in six languages ??: English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.
Visitors with impaired vision can get free tape with written description of the pictures. Lectures for the deaf using specified alphabet are held. Family, noon lectures and thematic lectures with films are often organized.
The original innovation of the National Gallery in London is micro gallery with its automated information retrieval. This system contains data about all expositions, allows visitors to explore some part of it in accordance with their interests, individual paintings, artists, periods in the history of painting or theme. One has only to press a button, and the monitor screen shows color image of any picture, as well as the necessary information, for instance, the artists biography, his creative manner, the history of painting, etc. (Walker, 1995).
The National Gallery widely uses in its work the latest computer technologies. Its partner is Hewlett-Packard (HP) within the established HP worldwide program aimed at supporting the use of technology in the preservation, reproduction and promotion of works of world art. All 2,300 paintings, exhibited in the National Gallery of London, were photographed by special highly sensitive digital cameras. According to the workers of the gallery, it took two full years to do that photography. In addition, in the past, visitors could be content with only a small amount of printed reproductions of paintings of the gallerys masterpieces, but, now, they can walk away with a copy of any of the 900 paintings stored in a computer database. Now visitors can print a copy of any picture almost instantly they just need to find it in computer and select the desired reproduction size - A3, A4 or A5. As Claire Gough, the press secretary of the Galleries notes, it is their duty to provide the general public access to Gallerys pictures so that everyone can enjoy their beauty at home.
There are also short and long guide books: the book Guide to the National Gallery and the brochure 20 great paintings in six languages in the gallery ??.
In addition to showing the permanent exhibition, the National Gallery hosts an exciting program of temporary exhibitions. The National Gallery has a main store, which presents an extensive range of art books, guides, catalogs, CDs, videos, postcards, prints, posters, slides and a variety of souvenirs.
To conclude, the National Art Gallery has the largest collection of paintings, which enables to study the history of art of the Old World in its vertex manifestations. The Gallery continually enriches its collections and, at the same time, maintains the highest level of quality of the museum. The National Gallery of Art at the beginning of the 21th century continues to retain one of the first places among the greatest museums in the world, attracting visitors with new methods of museum activity (Walker, 1995). The museum staff provides a variety of ways to explore great works. Consequently, it makes visits to such museums exciting and useful, makes people understand their past and future and think about eternal values.