Next time you’re looking for a study spot, try getting some work done in one of the world-class museums we have at our disposal instead of being stuck in a Gelman Library study room or locked in your residence hall.
Coffee shops and on-campus study spots can get old quickly, and sometimes all you need to finish your work that’s been piling up is a change of scenery. Almost all of the Smithsonian museums have reopened so check out one of these spots as you gear up for midterms.
National Gallery of Art
You don’t need to be an art history buff to take advantage of the serene atmosphere in the National Gallery of Art. The museum’s accompanying Sculpture Garden, which hosts Jazz in the Garden during warmer months, is a lively outdoor study spot to keep in mind for later this spring. But inside the museum, make your way to the second floor of the West Building to seek out a spot in one of the two Garden Courts. The spaces tout high ceilings, marble detailing and lush greenery. Both courts have a sparse selection of chairs, but luckily the steps down into the courts form a seating ledge around the perimeter of each space that does the trick. Or you can have a main character moment and secure a spot on the ledge of one of the fountains that act as the centerpieces of each court.
Between 3rd and 9th streets on Constitution Avenue NW. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free admission.
Freer Gallery of Art
The interior courtyard of the Freer Gallery of Art is a hidden gem for those who need less noise to focus. The square, open-air courtyard was designed as the focal point of the museum and at one point was home to live peacocks. The thick stone walls and glass doors encasing the courtyard muffle any outside noise. Since the museum has a smaller collection than most Smithsonians and is slightly hidden behind the Smithsonian Castle, you won’t have to count on sharing the space with many other visitors. Choose from a scattering of chairs in covered areas around the perimeter of the courtyard and study for a few hours.
Between Jefferson Drive and 12th Street on Independence Avenue SW. Open Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m. Free admission.
National Portrait Gallery
For a productive but leisurely study session, check out the Kogod Courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery. The massive, atrium-like space is visually striking with a multistory ceiling of glass and metal framing that give a wavy illusion and let floods of natural light in. There is no shortage of tables or chairs, so bring your friends for a study session here, and you can enjoy a tour around the museum afterwards as a reward for your hard work. Bring a few bucks to fuel your studies with a coffee or snack from The Courtyard Café, which stays open until 4 p.m.
Between 7th and 9th streets on G Street NW. Open Thursday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free admission.
Peppered with couches and plush chairs, the Hirshhorn Museum makes for a comfortable and cozy spot to study. A window-filled space on the third floor of the Hirshhorn called the Lerner Room is a break in the floor’s exhibit. The panoramic window in the Lerner Room is the only outward-facing view on the upper floors of the circular museum. There you can enjoy the view of the National Mall and nearby Smithsonian museums while grinding out some work. But what you’ll stay for are the large, worn-in curved couches the museum provides. Sink into one of these couches, and you might find yourself spending hours here.
Corner of Independence Avenue and 7th Street SW. Open Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Free admission.