The National Gallery of Art is a national art museum, located in Washington D.C. It was conceived, established and endowed by the famous collector Andrew W. Mellon in 1937. Architect John Russell Pope designed its neoclassical marble building and opened it to the public in 1941.
Its collection comprises two major schools of painting—American and
European—besides graphic arts, sculpture and decorative arts that range from the 12th century to modern times. It includes works of Andrew W. Mellon, and the Samuel H. Kress Collection, the Widener Collection, the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection of prints and the Chester Dale Collection.
Its original collection comprised 21 masterpieces, formerly owned by Queen Catherine II of Russia. It was bought in the 1930s by Mellon from Leningrad's Hermitage Museum and comprises the Annunciation by Jan van Eyck, Raphael's Alba Madonna and Titian's Venus with a Mirror. The highlight of the gallery is Leonardo da Vinci's only painting in the Western Hemisphere, the classic portrait of Ginevra dei Benci. Its American art collection includes the works of James A. M. Whistler.
The museum's East Wing was designed by I. M. PEI and donated by the Mellon family foundation. It displays contemporary art that includes the works of Calder, Jackson Pollock, Joan Miro and Robert Motherwell.
It has a vast library of books, photos and periodicals related to fine arts. IN 1984, it was one of America's first museums to produce a videodisc with over 1600 photos of its holdings.