The copyist program at the National Gallery of Art offers a unique opportunity for artists to study the techniques of old masters through intimate study in the galleries.
Before the Gallery opened to the public in March 1941, its trustees decided that a program should be established to allow artists to copy the museum’s masterpieces, not only for their own benefit but to help make these works available beyond the museum’s walls. Since the program's inception, more than 8,000 permits have been issued to copy paintings in the Gallery.
Artists who wish to participate in the copyist program must meet all requirements outlined in Rules Governing the Copying of Works of Art (available via email request) and agree to an interview and security background check. Artists must acknowledge their acceptance of these rules in writing.
Please note that a permit issued by the registrar's office is required for copying works of art in oil or any other liquid medium. The Gallery provides permit holders with an easel, stool, and drop cloth; private easels are not permitted in the galleries. The issue of a copyist permit does not in any way constitute the endorsement by the National Gallery of Art of a copyist's work.
Visitors may sketch in the galleries at any time with pencils and other dry media. Please see the Gallery's sketching policies and tips here.
To request rules and guidelines on the copyist program, please email us. Information will be sent within seven business days.