Happy birthday to the National Gallery of Art! We’re pleased to be commemorating our 75th anniversary today. In honor of the day, we’ll share a few posts that highlight the Gallery’s history.
The National Gallery of Art was conceived and given to the people of the United States by Andrew W. Mellon (1855–1937). Mellon was a financier and art collector who served as U.S. secretary of the treasury from 1921 to 1932. In 1936 Mellon wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, offering his collection of magnificent paintings and sculpture for a new museum. He proposed to construct a building for this collection with his own funds. Roosevelt endorsed Mellon’s offer, and Congress accepted his gift in 1937.
Believing that the National Gallery of Art should be a truly national institution, Andrew W. Mellon insisted that it not bear his name. Construction of the original West Building began in 1937, only weeks before Mellon’s death. When the Gallery opened on March 17, 1941, Paul Mellon presented the museum to the nation on behalf of his late father, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the gift on behalf of the American people. Through the Gallery’s 75 years, what has inspired you the most?
Learn more about our 75th anniversary: http://1.usa.gov/1YRBUVo.