Painted portrait of George Washington with hand outstretched

George Washington (Lansdowne Portrait) / Oil on canvas, 1796 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired as a gift to the nation through the generosity of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation

America’s Presidents

Reopened Sep 22, 2017 after renovation
Second floor

After 18 months of careful conservation and analysis, Gilbert Stuart’s “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington is back on view in the newly refurbished “America’s Presidents” gallery. In addition to changing the physical space of the presidential exhibition (improved lighting, paint, etc.) the Portrait Gallery has also enhanced the visitor’s experience through new labels, wall texts, and the addition of interactive touch screens that will allow people to explore the context of each presidency and access other visual material. A new website will accompany the permanent installation and a new edition of the museum’s book of presidential imagery will be published. This reimagining of the presidential portraits is a major undertaking that will confirm the installation as one of the major attractions at the Portrait Gallery.

“America’s Presidents” lies at the very heart of the museum’s mission to tell the American story through individuals who have shaped the country. It showcases multiple images of the past 44 U.S. presidents, starting with Washington and continuing to Barack Obama. Six presidents are given expanded attention because of their significant impact on the office: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

America’s Presidents was closed from Feb. 27 through March 23, 2017, and again from ­­­­­­­­­­­­Sept. 5 through Sept. 21, 2017 while the space was refurbished and updated. From March 24 to Sept. 4, 2017 there was a temporary America's Presidents installation on the second floor. America's Presidents is now fully reopened.

View the "America's Presidents" online exhibition >>

  • View of the exhibtion entrance, grand portrait of George Washington in the center
  • View of the exhibition, portrait of Woodrow Wilson in the center
  • Closeup of Lansdowne portrait of George Washington
  • Iinteractive touchtable in The Presidente exhibition
  • The lifemasks of LIncoln
  • View of exhibition, portraits of Theodore Rossevelt