The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC is enormous. It has such an extensive collection of art that it requires two buildings to contain its treasures; the East and West Buildings. You can get from one building to the next through the Rotunda on the main floor, but if you’re looking for a different experience, go down to the concourse level. There you will find an underground walkway about 200 feet in length that is itself a work of art. It is an LED light installation by the American artist Leo Villareal. It is called Multiverse and is so much fun, you may just find yourself crossing back and forth between buildings several times for no reason other than to experience the extraordinary trail of lights and movement. I know I did. Here are a few photos of the installation.

Leo Villareal Multiverse National Gallery of Art Washington DC

Leo Villareal Multiverse National Gallery of Art Washington DC

Leo Villareal Multiverse National Gallery of Art Washington DC

Leo Villareal Multiverse National Gallery of Art Washington DC

Leo Villareal Multiverse National Gallery of Art Washington DC

Photographs cannot truly convey the beauty, however, because movement is intrinsic to this piece, so here is some footage I took along the way. Welcome to the Multiverse.

Seriously, how much fun is that?


About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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78 Responses to Multiverse

  1. I think I’ll have to go down to Washington just to wander back and forth between those two buildings! 😉

  2. Rosemarie says:

    Yes, I have been there. It is a dazzling display. Your photos are great.

  3. ledrakenoir says:

    Amazing – excellent captured… 🙂

  4. A whole lot of fun!

  5. photosbyandy says:

    Went there all the time when I was in college!!! I could never get enough.

  6. Trish says:


  7. Gorgeous! The National Gallery was one of my favorite spots back when I lived in DC. One of my favorite activities was their Jazz in the Sculpture Garden on Friday evenings in the summer with a group of friends and a pitcher of sangria. You should check it out if you ever get the chance (and if they still do it)!

    • ailsapm says:

      I actually caught a jazz session in the Sculpture Garden when I was there, Lauren, it was great fun. I didn’t stay too long though – it was in the middle of an horrific heatwave and I’m a wuss – I retreated to the safety of air-conditioning pretty quickly!

  8. fgassette says:

    WOW! It has another world feel to it as I was watching your video. Beautiful photos. A must see the next time I’m in D.C.


  9. Andrea J. says:

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing this!

  10. IM Pei’s east wing of the national gallery has been one of my favorite places on earth since i was a teen. there are so many things to love: this installation linking the two galleries, the huge glass wall in the cafeteria (through which you can watch a million rivulets of water from the fountains above tumbling, jumping and dancing down the small sculpture staircase)….and most of all the bright, quiet spaces of the east wing where i used to lie on the marble floor and watch the lazy movements of Calder’s giant mobile above me. aah, thanks for this unexpected journey down amnesia lane. i’m glad to see you that you enjoyed the place, and i look forward to seeing and reading more about your travels.

    • ailsapm says:

      That glass wall mesmerized me too, petit soleil, and I love your description of the marble floors of the east wing, so beautifully described, you just transported me back there. xxx Ailsa

  11. viveka says:

    Amazing photos …. never been to DC, it reminds about O’Hara airport … but they have all the fantastic colors in their tunnel. Truly stunning photos.

    • ailsapm says:

      Ahh, I’ve never been through O’Hare, so now I have another place to visit – that tunnel sounds wonderful. I hope you get to visit DC sometime, viveka, it’s pretty amazing! Actually, it’s absolutely amazing! 🙂

  12. Diana says:

    Reblogged this on Pinknoyze and commented:
    Ooh. 🙂

  13. pommepal says:

    Far out…. It looks as though you are entering the Starship Enterprise, or maybe going to the third dimension… 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      I had a chuckle finding the right music to go along with the video, pommepal, I wanted something very Star Wars, it was like zooming through space (at a very slow speed without a space ship) 🙂

  14. Dramamine comes to mind, but FUN!

  15. Paige says:

    Gorgeous images … I want to go see this!!!

  16. I feel a road trip coming on……

    • ailsapm says:

      Hee hee, it was the highlight of my visit, Naomi, and that’s saying something because the artwork they have there is mind-blowing.

  17. I’ve been to the National Art Gallery and crossed underground between the East and West buildings many times, but I haven’t seen this! I must have missed the concourse level. Beautiful. 🙂

  18. Great photos of a space I wasn’t sure how to capture. Awesome!

  19. Tina Schell says:

    Beautiful Ailsa, well done!

    • ailsapm says:

      Yaay, thanks Tina, so glad you enjoyed my little trip through the Multiverse. I kind of want one in my house. Would that be too much? I bet the electric bill would be awful. 🙂

  20. mvschulze says:

    Incredible capture. We passed thru this a few years back, but your images and clip inspire me to be there again.

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks MV, it’s such an unusual exhibit I was absolutely fascinated by it. I spent ages trying to figure out how best to photograph it because it’s such a movement-centric exhibit. In the end, I did the video to supplement it because I think it gives a better representation. It was so much fun floating back and forth through the tunnel. 🙂

  21. Jane Lurie says:

    This is fabulous! Love how you captured it, too.

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks Jane, it was so much fun; I spent absolutely ages there trying to capture it on film. Mind you, it was lovely and cool down there and outside there was an insane heatwave, so I was quite happy to spend the afternoon indoors! 🙂

  22. Lucid Gypsy says:

    It’s like a dream scene.

  23. Mark Hahn says:

    Nice! I was just there! 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      DC was truly amazing, Mark, I couldn’t get over how many free museums there were, I was running around like a lunatic trying to fit everything in to my week long visit. 🙂

      • Mark Hahn says:

        The National Portrait Museum was the biggest surprise “find” for me, never heard of it and just stumbled on it, bur really great! We caught the end of the Ai Weiwei at the Hirshorn too! I lived near D.C. as a kid, so the National Gallery brought back all kinds of memories of being their with my sister. I haven’t posted any of my photos the trip yet… so much too do! Best! 🙂

  24. suej says:

    Wow! Puts me in mind of going through the Stargate in Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey!

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh yes, it does remind me of that too, now you mention it, Sue. I was thinking more of Dr Who – all that was missing was the Tardis. 🙂

  25. nirvanaamjad says:

    Nice!! I love your blog. I’ve nominated you for the Versatile BLogger Award. It’s up to you whether you want to accept it or not, but if you do then please visit

  26. Srdjana says:

    Amazing photos an video!

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks, Srdjana, I’m glad you enjoyed them. It’s a wonderful exhibit, I hope you get to see it for yourself sometime. xxx Ailsa

      • Srdjana says:

        You’re welcome Alisa 🙂
        I wanted to see it but I do not believe that I and see. some 20 years ago I was in Los Angeles but I rarely travel so far, and I wanted so much to see. But I enjoy with your photos and other images.

  27. Amazing photos. My son was 18 months when we visited here the first time…I think we went back and forth for an hour!

  28. Pingback: Multiverse | travelogue |

  29. Pamela says:


  30. this would make a bit “light-sea” sick?? 😉

  31. Your photos are simply stunning! What a great place to visit – and to photograph!

  32. Amazing!! Great photos. This is now on my list of things I must see!

  33. ideflex says:

    Mind-altering without the side effects – great pix!

  34. Madoqua says:

    I enjoyed your photos, but it wasn’t until saw the video that I really appreciated the feature. It made me feel as if I was floating through space, looking at the stars and galaxies. Superb presentation!

  35. Beachbums1 says:

    Great post. Will definitely check it out when I’m back in the DC area (later this year).

  36. Pingback: Romancing the Light | The Wanderlust Gene

  37. says:

    Bravo from me and 160 others, couldn’t stop looking!

  38. msdulce says:

    This is just gorgeous! It seems like it might feel a bit like flying through the starry night sky. What a great way to house an otherwise banal mode of transportation!

  39. I have been to DC many many times and never saw this. Time to go back!

    • ailsapm says:

      It’s definitely worth a visit, I had way too much fun exploring the Multiverse 🙂

      • We are going two different Sundays in May, hopefully we can fit this in. not the gallery probably, although I am way over due for a visit there too.
        Sigh…too little time off too little money!

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