One of my favorite museums in DC is the National Portrait Gallery. In 2000, the building underwent a major 6 year long renovation which included enclosing the courtyard, done by the starchitect Norman Foster.While I think this contemporary roof blends harmoniously with the classical building, formerly the National Patent Office, it's the restoration of the amazing Greek Revival building that really fascinates me.The building encompasses an entire city block so you can imagine the number of staircases required to provide access to all 3 floors.Each is different and the details astound me, every one.The stone scalloped treads of this curved stair elegantly cantilever out of the wall.While the stringer of this stair is amazingly shallow. Aren't the shadows beautiful?The first floor is almost treated as a basement in Piano Nobile style. This stair with heavy granite treads reminds me of a servant's stair from Downton Abbey.The top floor has this mezzanine and is a light filled atrium thank to the skylight, perfect for the more modern and celebrity portraiture.Check out these colorful Victorian tile floors!The art is as beautiful as the building, naturally, and there is always an interesting exhibit to check out. This bronze sculpture of the Spirit of Life, 1914, by Daniel Chester French, lies at the top of one of the many stairscases.A portrait of the beautiful Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler, 1893, by John Singer Sargent, is one of my many favorite portraits.The collection houses a number of works from the aesthetic period (my favorite) such as this painting of a Woman with red hair, 1894, by Albert Herter. So if you're in DC checking out our Cherry Blossom Festival and beautiful spring weather, don't forget to stop into the National Portrait Gallery!
The National Portrait Gallery is located at 8th Street NW & F Street NW atop the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop.