Date of Visit: March 21, 2011
The National Portrait Gallery is in the same building as the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, but that does not make it a small museum, but rather it is two big museums together in one huge building. Even though it is just paintings to look at, it is a pretty daunting museum. We mainly went here to get lunch from the cafe and eat it in the nice covered Pavillion area, but we also explored a few parts of the museum.
The accessible entrance to this museum is on the north side of the building. There are long ramps on the side of the steps to get up to the entrance. There are automatic doors to enter the building. The same set is for going in and out, as they are designed to swing both ways, so that depending on what side you press the button they swing away from you.
The main area we went through was the Presidential Portrait Gallery. Mik liked the spaciousness of the gallery and tried to roll around it away from me because he wanted to see other parts. He did not like the carpet of the gallery that made rolling around harder, especially since he is never encounters carpets in his normal routines. I noticed it was a little tougher to push him on the carpet than the rest of the museum, but it is not that bad.
The museum is in the Old Patent building and one of the most interesting exhibits is this little exhibit off the coat room that is easy to miss. It has some information on the building's history including it hosting one of Lincoln's Inaugural balls.
The mezzanine exhibits on the third floor include a sports Champions exhibit. I thought Mik would love this area being a sports fan, but he ended up hating it because the elevator to go up to it was barely larger than the wheelchair, moved slowly, and made some noise. You have to be able to go in forward and then roll backwards out. There was barely room for me to ride with Mik. I cannot remember if the button was automatic like most Metro ones are or if you had to press it to go once inside, but I sure hope not as you cannot turn around and would have to hit it as you enter and hopefully the doors do not close if you roll in and forget to hit button. Really could be a freaky experience as if it did get stuck you cannot reach the buttons. The exhibit is quite small, so it is not like you miss much not going up there. The other side of the mezzanine uses a big elevator, so not the same problems.
Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input
National Portrait Gallery
Between G St and F St and 7th and 8th St