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Fine Art Gallery

Feast on beauty at one of these top fine art gallery venues.

A fine art gallery commonly displays paintings, illustrations, sculpture and more. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
A fine art gallery commonly displays paintings, illustrations, sculpture and more.

A fine art gallery is an area specially designated for the display of visual art. While paintings are the most commonly displayed works at a fine art gallery, collections may also include illustrations, installation art, objects from applied arts, photographs and sculpture.

People use the term "art gallery" for both public displays (also known as museums) and private galleries that sell art. From time to time, both types typically host exhibitions of art borrowed from other galleries or museums.

In addition, the section of an art museum set aside for the public display of art is also referred to as a gallery. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has a section called the Egyptian Art gallery, in which Egyptian art is showcased.

While the primary purpose of fine art galleries is to display or sell art, many galleries host artistic activities such as concerts or poetry readings. The United States has a great number of well-known fine art galleries, including the following.

Henry Art Gallery (Seattle, WA)

Located at the University of Washington in Seattle, the Henry Art Gallery has more than 23,500 works of art in its permanent collection. Its fine arts collection includes photography, landscape paintings, pottery, ceramics, Japanese art, contemporary art and an impressive collection of costumes and textiles.

The Henry Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is an admission fee; however, museum members, students and children 13 years and younger receive free admission. On Thursdays, the gallery remains open until 8:00 p.m. and admission is free to everyone all day. The gallery is closed on Mondays and major holidays.

National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)

The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It is home to one of the world's most impressive collections of Western paintings, sculpture and graphic arts, ranging from the Middle Ages through the 21st century. Highlights include Renaissance decorative arts; 46 wax statuettes by Edgar Degas; Honor Daumier's bronze sculptures; and works by Picasso, Mir, Matisse, Pollock and Rothko.

The Italian Renaissance collection is impressive, featuring works by Titian and Raphael, the only Leonardo painting in the U.S. (Ginevra de' Benci), as well as the following works:

  • Two panels from Duccio's Maesta
  • The Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico and Fillipo Lippi
  • Giorgione's Allendale Nativity
  • Bellini's Feast of the Gods


Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. The gallery is closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Admission is free.

National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC)

Also in Washington, DC, the National Portrait Gallery is located at 8th and F streets. Its noteworthy collection consists of portraits of individual Americans. At the heart of the gallery is the America's Presidents exhibition -- the only complete collection of presidential portraits to exist outside the White House.

The permanent collection also includes portraits and sculptures of remarkable Americans, including these:

  • "American Origins" is an alcove arranged in chronological order, detailing American history from the days of Native Americans and European explorers through the Gilded Age. Portraits and figures include Pocahontas, Chief Joseph, Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Modern photographic prints from Matthew Brady's original negatives are also located here.
  • "Jo Davidson: Biographer in Bronze" features bronze sculptures of Gertrude Stein, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Marin and Lincoln Steffens, among others.
  • "Twentieth-Century Americans" displays major scientific, cultural and political figures from the 20th century.
  • "Bravo!" features images of notable Americans in the performing arts, including John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copeland.
  • "Champions" is an acknowledgement of American sports consisting of portraits, artifacts, memorabilia and video. Michael Wilbon, of ESPN and The Washington Post, narrates the videos.

The National Portrait Gallery is open from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day except December 25. Admission is free.

Alaska House Art Gallery (Fairbanks, AK)

The Alaska House Art Gallery is located in a small log cabin in Fairbanks, Alaska. Its mission is to preserve and promote the art of Alaska.

The first art gallery in the town of Fairbanks, the Alaska House features a collection of native art, including Alaskan masks, dolls, baskets, carvings, metal arts, beadwork and lamp work glass. The gallery often hosts musicians, dancers, storytellers and poets.

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