Bringing It Home

Washington, D.C., has its own huge art museum, the National Gallery of Art, which has two buildings and more than 1 million square feet of space.

When it first opened it had lots of empty rooms; the guards used parts of the museum as a gymnasium. But nowadays the gallery houses more than 108,000 paintings, sculptures and other artwork. It's a big job to protect these often-fragile masterpieces from the 4 million visitors who show up each year. There are 300-plus people on the security staff, including guards, locksmiths (the museum has special keys that cannot be copied) and technology experts.

So, could kids hide out in the NGA? Not likely. For one thing, the NGA has cameras in every exhibit room -- even cameras that can see in the dark! And what about the bathrooms? Trying to hide there wouldn't work either, says Mary Jane McKinven, who works in the museum's press office. "The guards check every bathroom and they open every stall door after closing."

For more about how the National Gallery of Art works, there's a great book called "The Nine-Ton Cat" available in the museum's shops. For another book about kids who tackle an art-related mystery, check out Blue Balliett's "Chasing Vermeer," which is set in our next stop -- Chicago!