National Gallery of Art offers exciting spring slate of virtual programming

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews virtual programs at National Gallery of Art (Part 1)

The National Gallery of Art is still closed to the public, save for the Sculpture Garden.

However, there are plenty of virtual programs to experience in the month of March.

“We have a really wide array of virtual programming for all types of visitors, all ages and different levels of interest,” Gallery and Studio Learning Head Heidi Hinish told WTOP. “You can sit on your couch with coffee and a snack and learn about a work of art and have a conversation with other people, all without leaving your house.”

One of the most popular programs is “The Art of Looking” every Friday at 1 p.m.

“It’s really for anyone interested in having a conversation about a work of art,” Hinish said. “We spend the entire hour with just one object. We encourage everyone to share their observations and reflections. It’s a wonderful way to be a part of a learning community in this time of isolation … and learn from the perspectives of everyone.”

You can also participate in the family program “Artful Conversations.”

“It’s for children ages 7 to 12 and their adult companions,” Hinish said. “[This week], we’re featuring Doron Peterson from Sticky Fingers Bakery to bake vegan cupcakes together. Later this month, we’ll be featuring two artists who will demonstrate colored pencil techniques. Then in April, we’re going to focus on poetry.”

Film fans can stream free programs on their website every Wednesday.

“We offer a free film program every week,” Hinish said. “For Women’s History Month, we have upcoming films from award-winning director Lynne Sachs on the fascinating work and life of Marceline Loridan-Ivens, so definitely check out those films.”

They also post a new podcast ever other week called “Sound Thoughts on Art.

“Last month, we launched this new podcast exploring the intersection between sight and sound,” Hinish said. “We host a variety of musicians responding to works of art in the collection. The first three episodes are now available for download.”

There’s even digital lesson plans for teachers.

“Teachers are looking for resources and tools to use in their own digital or hybrid classrooms,” Hinish said. “We have a pandemic portal just for them. You can find lesson plans, images and ideas for teaching using our collection. We’ve also launched virtual school tours if you’d like folks to come into your digital classroom and talk.”

There are also Q&A’s with esteemed cultural figures.

“This Friday, we’re going to hear from Teju Cole and Fazal Sheikh about their really important work called ‘Human Archipelago.’ It’s a book that [examines] migration and refugees across the world. … On March 25, we’ll hear from Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith on how they use historical film to advance contemporary social justice.”

Of course, you can always check out the outdoor Sculpture Garden.

“The spring is a fantastic time to visit the Sculpture Garden,” Hinish said. “It’s open daily from 11 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.], there are no timed passes required, so just come on in and walk amongst the sculptures and beautiful plants and trees.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews virtual programs at National Gallery of Art (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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