By Rachel Stevens
Skating in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art allows for a skating experience that is surrounded by national monuments and museums, as well as large-scale sculptures by contemporary artists such as: Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Roxy Paine, Tony Smith, and others from the Gallery’s renowned collection.
Each winter, the National Gallery turns the sculpture garden fountain into an ice rink. The usual fountain in the garden is replaced with sheets of thick ice and strung with white Christmas lights. This winter’s skating season runs from November 19 to March 10, 2019, weather permitting. The ice rink closes when it rains or when the temperature dips below 20°F.
Student passes can be purchased for $8.00 along with a $4.00 skate rental fee. $12.00 allowed for ninety minutes of skating. The price was reasonable, especially considering how great the views of the National Mall and surrounding museums were. The Washington Monument, Capitol building, and surrounding smithsonian museums were lit up in the night near the rink.
“Unfortunately, they had no ice skating gliders available for children or adults with no skill like me. So, I just went for it,” Isabel Caton, a sophomore nursing major said. “There were plenty of people holding the wall, so I did not feel alone. There were definitely a range of skill levels present on the rink. The one downside to my experience was being yelled at a bit harshly for trying to take a photo while on the rink. There is a no cell phone policy on the rink that was not explained to us beforehand. “
The crowds were reasonable and far less than anticipated for a Friday night, but still decent considering the time of year and the fact that it was a weekend night. The crowd was comprised of mostly young people and some families.
Aside from the skating, there was a Pavilion Cafe where hot chocolate and one of their popular menu items, the giant soft pretzel served with warm cheese sauce and mustard, were available for purchase. The hot chocolate came topped with whipped cream and a giant marshmallow for $3.00 total.
The rates are $9 for adults and children age 13 and over, and $8 for skaters age 50 and over, children 12 and under, and students with a valid school ID. The skate rental fee is $4; lockers are available for $0.50 ($5 deposit required). Season passes are available for $195. The wristband given covers skaters for 2 forty five minute sessions.
They also offer classes during the week for all ages. Classes include: Mom/Dad/me, Snowplow Sam, Basic skills 1-6, Adult, and Hockey. The prices range from $145 to $385. All of the information is available on the National Gallery website, nga.gov.
“Overall, as a weekend winter activity I highly recommend taking some friends or a date to the National Gallery of Art for skating,” Abby Anderko, a sophomore history major said. “The price, service, views, and overall experience made me happy that I get to live in such a fun city. “
Aside from skating, the National Gallery is decorated for Christmas. Beginning Monday, December 3, several evergreen trees with sparkling white lights, hundreds of red poinsettias, and white hydrangeas will grace the lobby Rotunda and Garden Courts, creating a warm Christmas atmosphere on the Main Floor of the West Building. In this same rotunda, there will be caroling December 8-16 at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
The National Art Gallery is well equipped to greet visitors with festive spirit. From ice skating, to seasonal foods, and Christmas displays with caroling there is something for everyone.