Nobody really loves art museums. You walk around, stare at and nod at art from a bunch of dead people, and then you move on to the next set. It's a rather mundane process, especially if you don't like to talk with the guides floating around.
With that said, however, art museums are just as important if not more than your average history museum. Here's why:
- The exhibited art may be just pretty pictures, but if you look closely, there is so much history and personality in each piece; thus, you get both the aesthetic values, but also the context.
- Some of the artworks can be very aesthetically pleasing. Thus, if you have nothing else to do, you can just spend the day broadening your knowledge on what more you can do with paint, charcoal, photography, and etc.
- Art museums aren't always about the art. The guides that may seem annoying at first are vessels of knowledge. They know so much more than the average Joe so take advantage of them whenever you can! Also, from personal experience, they're most likely bored as well, so feel free to strike up a conversation at any time.
Because we live near D.C., art museums are within easier reach. While the capital may seem like it only houses history museums, the city has quite the selection of art ones. Here are some of my favorites.
1) Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Gallery
It's not the biggest art museum in the mix, but if you enjoy contemporary and modern art, this is the place for you. Because it's smaller, too, you can easily cover all of the exhibits within just a few hours (that is, if you don't talk with the guides...which you should!)
2) National Gallery of Art
This museum is split into two main parts (as well as a sculpture garden): East and West. East is my favorite because it features more contemporary works such as Rob Lichtenstein and Alexander Calder. Much of the art featured in West are from the Renaissance and onwards. In general, however, the NGA's special collections exhibits are always worth the view.
3) Glenstone Museum
I've personally never been to this museum, but I've heard nothing but good things. This place features both architecture, such as those of Jeff Koons, but also modern works. This is the only place that is not in D.C. but it's a straitforward 30-min drive to Potomac if you're in need of a cool art fix.
4) Arthur M. Sackler Museum
This museum features Asian art, from the Middle East/Arab countries to the Far East. I love this museum because there aren't others like it that solely house Asian artworks. Not only that, but the exhibits are like mini history museums themselves. Plus, they're just nice breaks from the European perspectives that are prevalent in other galleries.
5) National Museum of Women in the Arts
Women in the arts, especially those from the Renaissance and before, are scarce. This place is the one-and-only place to see works by amazing women artists who deserve to have their own exhibits. Moreover, the museum itself is just really sleek and easy to navigate.