Everyone loves the National Gallery, filled with treasures from around the world, including the only Leonardo Da Vinci painting in the United States. The National Gallery hosts great traveling exhibitions too, bringing unique collections to Washington for a short period of time.
The National Gallery is composed of two buildings above ground: the original building and the newer East Building (35 years old!) Unfortunately, the East Building is starting to show its age. The marble slabs decorating its exterior are starting to slide down and off! It needs work, and it is getting it soon with an upcoming $30 million renovation.The planned removal and reinstallation of the marble veneer of the 35-year-old East Building of the National Gallery of Art began in early March 2011; the project is expected to be completed by spring 2014. While the East Building is remaining open to the public during the entire period, the project has necessitated the following developments:
The north parking lane of Madison Drive between 3rd and 4th Streets NW is closed to all vehicles.
The sidewalks along Madison Drive and Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 3rd and 4th Streets are closed to all pedestrians. The sidewalks along 3rd and 4th Streets between Pennsylvania Avenue and Madison Drive remain open.
Some of the Yoshino cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) and willow oak (Quercus phellos) trees on the east and south sides of the East Building have been moved to an off-site nursery for the duration of the project. Others will be replaced with trees of the same size and quality upon completion of the project.
Instead of conventional or fixed scaffolding over the entire building, a more open, vertical-access system is being employed for the removal and reinstallation of some 16,200 Tennessee pink marble panels with new supports. Each three-inch-thick panel weighs approximately 450 pounds and typically measures five feet wide by two feet high. When the repair project is complete, the East Building and its landscaping will be restored to their original appearance.
To accommodate additional renovation, the museum expects to begin closing galleries in the East Building in July, with the last to close in December. The building will remain closed to the public for three years.
Plans for the renovated space include two sky-lit interior Tower Galleries and an outdoor sculpture terrace overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. The renovation will add more than 12,260 square feet of exhibition space to the museum. The $30 million price tag for this project is being paid for with donations from, among others, National Gallery Board President Victoria Sant and her husband, Roger; board member Mitchell Rales and his wife, Emily; and David Rubenstein, co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group, a D.C.-based private-equity firm.
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