The Reynolds Center, in the heart of downtown Washington DC, combines two museums in one: it houses both the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. It has paintings, sculptures, photos, and drawings ranging from classical oil paintings to folk art to modern art.
The building has undergone major renovations in recent years. In addition to sprucing up the gallery spaces, it included a major overhaul of the distinctive enclosed courtyard in the center of the building that provides a tranquil escape from the bustling streets outside. With its ribbed roof of glass covering what was once the exterior of the buildings, it’s reminiscent of the British Museum in London.
The Reynolds Center is set back from the National Mall in the heart of downtown Washington DC. There’s some street parking nearby, but this is a busy part of town and finding a free park can be hard.
The Gallery is an easy walk from the National Mall, but the most convenient way to get there is by metro. The Gallery Place/Chinatown stop (Red, Yellow, and Green lines) is on the next block. Metro Center (Red, Orange, and Blue lines) and Archives/Navy Memorial (Orange, Blue, Yellow, and Green lines) stops are also nearby.
Cameras are allowed, but many of the galleries have “no photos” signs.
Photographers are likely to find the various photo galleries of interest. The Portrait Gallery often has a multi-room photography exhibit on the ground floor near the entrance.
If you're coming in from out of town, here are some of the most popular guidebooks that can help you make the most of your visit.
And here are some interesting options for less traditional guidesbooks if you'd like an emphasis on exploring DC on foot or diving into some of the region's rich history.