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  • Writer's pictureDani Sauter

Socially Distant DC: National Gallery of Art Visit

Lately I've been getting out and exploring a bit more to make life feel "normal" again. Even after quarantine restrictions lifted, I was still a bit cautious at first of going out and doing things that I'd never think twice about doing pre-quarantine. Since I've been exploring more, I've decided to begin sharing Socially Distant DC activities and restaurants that I've been to that have made me feel safe through their implementation of safety regulations for both the customers and staff. I feel in times likes these its more important than ever to share activities that are safe and that make us feel inspired or positive, especially during these tough times.

One of the first real outings I went on recently was to the National Gallery of Art (NGA) with my friend Kevin, and we had a fantastic and safe experience. NGA was one of the first Smithsonian museums to reopen to the public after quarantine, along with the zoo, and I saw the announcement on Instagram for limited, timed entry tickets. Starting every Monday at 10am the NGA releases a limited number of timed entry tickets for the following week. The tickets are open to all and are free, but they go fast. It took me 3 attempts to get the date/time I wanted over the course of a few weeks- so keep that in mind!

The tickets are for the NGA West building only which includes the current exhibit- Degas at the Opéra; 19th and 20th century sculpture; medieval, Renaissance, and baroque sculpture; decorative arts; impressionist paintings; and more. It had been forever since I visited the West Building so I'm glad the timed tickets allowed me to revisit a part of the museum I don't normally go to.

I'll admit I was a bit nervous at first, but upon arrival and check-in, I was instantly put at ease. Masks are required inside and everyone from the staff to the other museum goers adhered respectfully to the mask policy. Entry was completely contactless and it was reiterated throughout the museum to keep distance from others. There were even a few times we were the only ones in the gallery rooms- which actually was very peaceful.

The main attraction- Degas at the Opéra - was absolutely stunning, although a bit more crowded. Museum guards stood watch throughout the museum and if a gallery room was getting a bit too full, they'd kinda ask you to wait until the gallery was emptied out to avoid crowding, which I really appreciated. Only in the Degas gallery rooms did we need to wait, but it was only a short wait and completely worth it.

Degas at the Opéra is dedicated to Edgar Degas's love of the French Opéra and the inspiration he took from it all- the dancers/performers, the stage, the music, and the theatre in 19th century Paris. It features a vast selection of his beautiful paintings and drawings focused on the human body. Seeing the exhibit was everything I didn't realize I needed - a quick visit to Paris without having to leave DC. It was exquisite!

To see more about free, timed entry tickets, visit the NGA website. If you are still apprehensive to go to a museum but don't want to miss out, you can view the Degas at the Opera exhibit virtually! Also, the NGA Sculpture Garden is open to the public (and does not require advance tickets) and is completely outdoors!


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