The Smithsonian’s Renovation

The Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture: big name, big changes

Best Makeover

The name’s clunky, but the transformation of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery into the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture (Eighth and F sts., NW; 202-633-1000; americana rt.si.edu/reynolds_center) is glorious. The renovation, six years in the works, both modernized and restored the Greek Revival grandeur of the Old Patent Office building—after the White House and the Capitol, the third-oldest in Washington. And there’s more to come: The courtyard, redesigned by Lord Norman Foster, will be covered by a glass canopy next year. Best of all, the makeover showcases the two museums’ wide-ranging collections to stunning effect. It’s the don’t-miss museum experience of the year.

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