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National Gallery East Building to Close for Three Years Before Transformation

A rooftop sculpture garden is part of a renovation planned for the landmark modern art gallery.

The National Gallery of Art has unveiled plans for a $30 million renovation of its East Building, according to The Washington Post.

The renovations include more than 12,000 square feet of additional space for exhibits as well as a rooftop sculpture garden.

Earl A. Powell III, the National Gallery’s director, told the Post the renovation is a "gift to the nation" in service to the gallery's worldclass modern art collections, which will be viewed in a "spacious, airy and contemplative" environment.

Donors for the project include Washington-based philanthropists Victoria Sant (the Gallery’s president) and her husband Roger, Gallery board member Mitchell Rales and his wife Emily, and David Rubenstein, who heads up the private equity firm, the Carlyle Group. The Post reported that the donations make up one of the largest private gifts in the last 10 years.

The East Building, designed by I.M. Pei, opened in 1978 and allowed for the showing of larger pieces of art. The museum has been undergoing renovation since 1999, when work began on the West Building, and includes other infrastructure improvements.

The East Building galleries are expected to gradually shutter between July and December, ultimately remaining closed for three years.

When work on the East Building is completed, visitors will have the chance to peruse modern art from the museum’s permanent collection in two sky-lit interior galleries, as well as sculptures on the rooftop terrace that overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue, according to National Gallery spokeswoman Deborah Ziska.

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