The name of this Washington art museum is technically correct, but it doesn’t even begin to describe the hidden treasures in the collections here. Take, for instance, one of the most visited exhibits: American Presidents. Organized from the first president on, the early part of the collection is, as one might imagine, paintings of the heads of old white men dressed in black. Then John F. Kennedy comes along, and the colorful, full-length portrait by Elaine de Koonig turns the exhibit on its head. The portraits become more personal – even Richard Nixon smiles.
But the crowning glory of the exhibit isn’t a President, but the Amy Sherard portrait of Michelle Obama, which is so stunning it replaced the photo of my dog on my home screen, though I do not know Michelle personally. That’s the surprise of this museum – predictable, but mind the twists. Look for Katherine Hepburn’s Oscars, Kurt Cobain’s attitude, and The Four Justices by Nelson Shanks. The building itself is art – a grand inner courtyard houses a café and a water feature no child can resist running through.