Do you want to see how the U.S. presidents wished to be remembered on canvas? Your best destination is the National Portrait Gallery and its chief executive exhibition, called “America’s Presidents.” After that art and history lesson, the building is a grand one to explore. It was built in 1836, one of the oldest public buildings in the city, and originally housed the U.S. Patent Office. A part of the Smithsonian Institution since the 1960s, the museum and its sister occupier, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, had an extensive renovation that began in 2000; the museums reopened in 2006.

21,000 Total portraits

Portraits on view

43 Presidents
8,300 People represented in portraits
3,300 Artists
382,000 Square footage of entire building
57,000 Portrait Gallery share (square feet) of exhibition space
948,345 Total building visitors in 2011
July 1, 2006 Most crowded day (when it reopened after being closed for six years)
2.95 million Web site visitors in 2011
735 Stairs (some shared with SAAM)
346 Seats in Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium

— Jacqueline Trescott