Check it Out! The Kid-Friendly East Building at the National Gallery of Art


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New York, Paris, Munich, and Istanbul all boast magical modern art museums. Lucky for us, with the newly reopened East Building, D.C. also goes on the list as having another(!!) incredible place to view modern art. From Picasso to Matisse, de Toulouse-Lautrec to Calder, Pollock to Bearden, modern artists abound across the East Building. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots to check out–from original Disney posters, adult sized mobiles, and the biggest blue Rooster you’ve ever seen.


Lights, Camera, Action!
Do your brood a favor and wander over to the East Building from the West Wing of the Gallery. Not because you want to tucker everyone out (though that is a bonus come bedtime) but because the entryway to the new exhibits is a piece of art in and of itself. Kids might think its an amusement ride, but its really a super cool tunnel with twinkling lights, moving walkways and mirrored ceilings to transform you as you enter famed architect I.M. Pei’s East Building and its wondrous collection of swanky, cool, and funky art. Though, we can’t guarantee that little ones won’t want to play games along the sparkly corridor (we kind of wanted to, too!) and forget all about the rest of the visit!


Cuckoo for Art
Depending on whether your roosters need to burn off some steam, or are ready for the viewing party, should dictate whether you head (run) straight for the gigantic blue chicken on the roof (seriously, it’s the largest one we’ve ever seen – not that we’ve had many giant blue chicken sightings) or mosey around the first part of your custom tour. The Dwan Collection runs through January 2017 and shouldn’t be missed. Virginia Dwan’s gallery of modern art was the leading avant-garde space in the 60’s and is awe-inspiring. Her pieces feature more than 100 artists including Jean Tinguely, Agnes Martin, Yves Klein and many others. Screen addicts will get a charge out of a short video that explains her life, collection, and what it was like to interact with so many great artists.


screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-1-08-35-amMaking Picasso Proud
For those little painters looking for a bit more familiarity, there are multiple works by Picasso, including some of his more famous blue and red period pieces and cubism originals. Also on view are paintings by Gaugin, Matisse and Monet showcasing the more modern aspects of their careers. Adventure seekers will love climbing the steps to the three different towers featuring their own exhibits (and access to the Roof Terrace) and the only set of original spiral staircases from I.M. Pei (in tower 3). Life size planes, kites, mobiles and more are featured throughout the museum, but for creative lovers, and wannabe modelers, the Alexander Calder pieces are a must see – from flowers to fish, and a cow to a triple gong. Kiddos will be wide-eyed and mesmerized.



Started from the Bottom…
Once you hit the Roof Terrace, you can’t miss the Hahn/Cock, from German artist Katharina Fritsch. But, be sure to look around and check out the only pieces of art you can actually sit on (!) and some other super cool outdoor sculptures.

Constitution Ave. between 3rd and 9th Sts. (National Mall)

Have you been to the National Gallery of Art with kids? What was their favorite part of the visit?

–Hilary Riedemann (photos and words)

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