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Life Slides onto The Ice at the National Gallery of Art

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National Art Gallery Skating Rink, Courtesy Photo

National Art Gallery Skating Rink, Courtesy Photo

Published on: Wednesday, January 08, 2014

By Wanda Jackson, Sentinel Arts Reporter

Amid curvilinear beds of American plants and arcing pathways in the six-acre outdoor gallery at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C, visitors encounter such works as "Spider" by Louise Bourgeois, "House I" by Roy Lichtenstein and "Thinker on a Rock" by Barry Flanagan. And smack dab in the middle of the outdoor gallery sits a circular reflection pool and fountain.

From mid-November through March 16 (weather permitting), the reflecting pool is transformed into an ice-skating rink, promising amazing fun and a good workout to music from a state-of-the-art sound system.

What most people love about this family-friendly activity, too, is the feeling of gently gliding over the ice.

An American radio and television writer best known for his weekly CBS 60 Minutes broadcast "A Few Minutes with Any Rooney likened skating to "sort of a combination of gymnastics and ballet. A little sexy too which doesn't hurt."

American figure skater, Olympian and world champion Dorothy Hamill discovered her passion as a child. "It was very much like Norman Rockwell: small town America," remembers Hamill. "We walked to school or rode our bikes, stopped at the penny candy store on the way home from school, skated on the pond."

The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. On Sunday, the rink is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Admission for a two-hour session costs $8 for adults, and $7 for seniors 50 and over, students with a school ID, and kids 12 and under. Skate rentals are $3.

Guest Services, Inc. offers both group and private skating lessons at the ice rink. Certified by the Unites States Figure Skating Association, instructor Alice Shelley teaches skaters of all ages and experience levels.

The ice rink is located on the National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. During the evening, when the gallery and sculpture garden are closed to the public, access to the ice rink and Pavilion Cafe is restricted to the entrances at Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive near 9th Street.

For questions or comments about the ice rink or Pavilion Cafe, e-mail or call 202.216.9397.

For information about The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden, call 202.737.4215 (TDD 202.842.6176) or visit the gallery's Web site at

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