WASHINGTON -- As millions of tourists know, the nation's capital is a city of monuments. But it's also a city of art museums. Some 16 diverse institutions offer the proverbial something for everyone -- from European Old Masters to the traditional arts of Asia and Africa; from crafts and folk art to international contemporary expression.
Washington is, as the Simon and Schuster Pocket Art Museum guide proclaims, one of the "pleasantest" places to look at. Many museums are housed in grand beaux-arts buildings or in charming old homes. A good number are clustered along the Mall, running between the White House and the Capitol, and others are easily accessible by the Metro.
Here is a sampling of what you can see if you're planning to get away to D.C.
National Gallery of Art
In addition to its vast permanent collection, the National Gallery has eight temporary exhibitions. Divided between the original Neoclassical West Wing, designed by John Russell Pope, and its modernist East Wing, designed by I. M. Pei, the subjects include 17th century Baroque master Guercino; American John Singer Sargent's famous painting, "El Jaleo"; and 19th-century American Indian art.
"Kathe Kollwitz," more than 100 drawings, prints and sculptures by an early 20th-century German artist, is a special treat.
This exhibition seeks to broaden her reputation beyond social protest themes by emphasizing her less-seen portraits, self-portraits and sculptures. These justly highlight her technical skills in a variety of media and the range of approaches from representational to a more abstracted expression. It is on view through Aug. 16.
John McQueen's baskets in "The Language of Containment" at the Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian's crafts museum, points up how blurred the boundaries are between art and craft.
Although Mr. McQueen focuses his formal explorations on the basket form, he displays an exquisite sensitivity to materials, such as daylily leaves, morning-glory vines or pine bark, as well as wood.
L "The Language of Containment" is on display through July 26.
You also might want to catch some of the following summer exhibitions:
"Interface: Berlin Art in the Nineties," at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, through Friday; "Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Walt Disney," through Aug. 16.
"Crosscurrents of Modernism: Four Latin American Pioneers," at the Hirshhorn Museum, through Sept. 7.
"Between Man and the Gods: Sacrifice and Ceremony on a Cast Metal Ring," at the Museum of African Art, through Sept. 7.