National Gallery of Art Tour: A Guided Crash Course

Get up close and personal with prized masterworks and lesser-known gems from a world-famous art collection
From US$325 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
National Gallery of Art
Photos & Highlights
  • Tour National Gallery of Art with an art historian
  • Discuss art history, material culture, and object conservation
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Tour Description
Created with a gift from financier and art collector Andrew W. Mellon, the National Gallery of Art opened its doors in 1941 as a museum devoted to the people of the United States of America. Mr. Mellon believed that the nation deserved a collection, open and free to the public, that could hold its own with the greatest collections of the world. In the company of an art historian, we'll explore highlights by Van Eyck, Rembrandt, and a host of American masters during this three-hour National Gallery of Art tour.

“We loved [our guide’s] approach to the material, bringing in history and culture to give added depth to the artwork. We especially enjoyed her comparative visual approach to viewing Fra Angelico’s [Adoration of the Magi]!”

Buildings and Benefactors

Our tour begins with a discussion of the museum’s most significant benefactors, including Mr. Mellon and others. We'll consider how the NGA’s neoclassical West Building embodies the modern visions and ideologies of these early supporters of art appreciation in Washington, DC while also looking back to the greatest architecture of antiquity.

National Gallery of Art Tour

As we move through the galleries, we will take a look at some of the NGA’s earliest masterworks in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Italian galleries. Moving on, we’ll have a chance to explore everything from Dutch and Flemish paintings of the seventeenth century to American and British paintings of the nineteenth century. Using these objects as our visual textbook, we’ll learn about the development of major genres of western art like portraiture, still-life, and landscapes. We'll also delve into a discussion about national art schools like London’s Royal Academy, Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and New York’s National Academy of Design.


Tour participants will get up close and personal with some of the NGA’s most prized and adored collections while uncovering hidden gems along the way. In addition to gaining a better understanding of the history of western art, clients will hone their active “looking” skills and learn to think like an artist —a skill you can take away for your next museum trip.


Can this tour include temporary exhibits?
If you are interested in visiting one of the Gallery's temporary exhibits, please contact us to see if this can be arranged.

There are certain works I would like to see, can these be included?
Feel free can put any requests in the additional notes when booking and your expert guide will take these into consideration.

Is this tour suitable for children?
This tour has not been especially designed for younger learners in mind, however, we can aim to assign a family-friendly guide for the tour. Families may also like to book our The National Mall Tour for Kids which has been designed for children 12 and under.

Can visitors with mobility issues take this tour? 
Yes, the National Gallery of Art is wheelchair accessible and wheelchairs are available for loan to visitors with mobility issues (on a first come-first-serve basis). All public spaces and facilities are accessible by elevator. If you have any mobility concerns, please make a note of these in the additional notes when booking so your expert guide is aware.
Where You'll Start
(4.89) 52 Reviews

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Our guide, Heather, was really wonderful. She was so knowledgeable and explained the evolution of different art periods and styles!
I loved Stephen’s passion for the individual pieces of art and his explanations of how the viewer connects to the art. This tour is a great overview of the museum.
One of the great art museums in the world with the only Leonardo DaVinci painting in the western hemisphere. Stephen did a great job guiding us through the museum, teaching us its history, and showing us the highlights of the art collection. Very enjoyable morning at the museum.