On July 6th, a group of our residents ventured into downtown DC to visit the National Portrait Gallery. The cool halls of one of the oldest buildings in DC were the perfect escape from the humid, rainy day outside. Serving many purposes over the years, the building was once the locale for the United States Patent Office and during the Civil War it was repurposed as a hospital. In the early 1960s, Congress allowed this grand work of architecture to become the official National Portrait Gallery, stating it would house portraits of “men and women who have made significant contributions to the history,
development, and culture of the people of the United States.” Since then, its collection and mission have expanded as our nation’s dynamic culture has moved forward. The artwork at the National Portrait Gallery is in every medium and style, ranging from old Singer sewing machines and portraits of our presidents to paintings of contemporary pop culture icons.
Our residents were treated to a Docent’s Tour of the gallery. The docent gave vibrant accounts of the backstory of each portrait she highlighted, dropping in fun bits of trivia about the artist and the subject. She began with more modern portraits and moved to older ones depicting notable historical figures such as Thomas Edison and Queen Elizabeth I. For many of the residents, the two standout portraits were of actress Katharine Hepburn and writer Toni Morrison. The hour-long tour was an exceptional experience for our residents, who were thrilled with this outing and are looking forward to the other museum visits we have planned.