Museum curator giving a tour


Dropping by the museum during your lunch hour or stopping by after work? We have many programs designed specifically for portrait enthusiasts and history buffs. See our events calendar for a full list of events and programs. 


IDENTIFY: Performance Art Series
Experience portraiture through performance and embrace new forms of expression. The museum’s first performance art series draws from personal stories, forgotten histories, and lost voices. The series fills the gaps in the museum’s historic collection by focusing on activism and visibility with contemporary artists experimenting with portrayal.

Artist in Residence
Through 2019, Dana Tai Soon Burgess, the museum’s first choreographer in residence, creates new works, performances, and workshops reflecting the American experience and inspired by the Portrait Gallery’s exhibitions and collections. Open rehearsals in June leading up to the next performance in July will be based on the “Face of Battle” exhibition. Artist and

Author Talks
The Portrait Gallery invites artists and authors who have created visual and historical portraits of sitters in our permanent collection or special exhibitions to share their impressions of the sitters who’ve moved them. How does our collection of portraits, via the artist’s or author’s creation, contribute to the national understanding of the sitters’ place in art and history? Please check our calendar for next upcoming talk. Films The Portrait Gallery partners with individual film producers and film festivals to present screenings of films that increase our knowledge about sitters in the collection. Please check our calendar for our next screening.


America Now
This collaborative annual series with Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Museum of American History presents programming centered on American themes and shared cultural values. This year’s theme, JFK 100, reflects on how John F. Kennedy’s ideals—justice, service, gratitude, freedom, and courage—still resonate today. The Portrait Gallery is part of a nationwide centennial celebration of Kennedy’s birth on May 29, 2017. Join us for our America Now program on June 17 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Portraits After 5
This twice-yearly evening program in the Kogod Courtyard is free and open to the public. Drop in with friends and grab a drink and snacks while you enjoy live music and art activities, participate in the Portrait Gallery’s famous Pop Quiz trivia, and join our curators for gallery talks about works on display. Please check our calendar for the next Portraits After 5.


Open Studio

Visitors of all ages and artistic abilities learn more about the artistic process through weekly drop-in workshops exploring new materials and techniques. A great way to kick start the weekend, unwind, and release your inner artist. Fridays, 1–6 p.m., Education Center, E151.

Strike a Prose

Spark your imagination and let the National Portrait Gallery inspire you in an informal creative writing session for adults. Led by local writers and museum educators, this workshop series uses the Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection and special exhibitions as a springboard for writing in the galleries. Through looking, reading, discussion, and writing, participants will experience our portraits through a different lens.

Everyone is welcome, from beginner to advanced, as the workshops are designed for all skill levels. Materials are provided. This program is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required due to limited space. Check out our calendar for the next workshop series.

Thursdays at Noon

There’s something happening every Thursday at noon at the National Portrait Gallery. Whether you are “Slow Looking” at one portrait, experiencing three portraits in thirty minutes with “3 in 30,” uncovering the story of a new portrait in the collection with “Curator’s Choice,” or experiencing verbal description with “Portrait Insight,” we’ve got you covered. Meet inside the G Street entrance every Thursday at noon.

Conversation Circle

Practice English and meet new people through discussions about American history, culture, and art. The Conversation Circle program leads participants on a chronological walk through history, with a new focus and different portraits each week. Discussion questions and activities encourage participants to connect with each other and share their own cultural experiences. This drop-in program takes place every Friday from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Meet in the G Street lobby. In partnership with the DC Public Library.

Docent Tours

Docent-led Walk-In Tour Schedule

Bring the family or a friend and experience the Portrait Gallery by exploring the portraits and the building’s rich history. Portrait Gallery docents give tours 364 days per year! Tours are subject to cancellation or schedule changes, please visit our calendar to verify times.

Monday–Friday: noon and 2:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 11:45 a.m. and 1:30, 3:15, and 4:30 p.m.

Joint Tours with the American Art Museum

Joint Tours of the Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum take place weekly at 1:00 p.m., so drop in for this lively tour of both museums! Tours are subject to docent availability; last-minute cancellations may occur. Please check our events calendar.

Group Tours

Tours of “America’s Presidents,” the permanent collections, highlights of the National Portrait Gallery, and temporary exhibitions are available for groups of twelve or more by Portrait Gallery docents. Group reservations are required and six weeks’ or more advance notice is appreciated. All tours are subject to docent availability; last-minute cancellations may occur. To request a group tour, use our tour request form. If your group is twenty-five or more people, please contact NPGAdultTours@si.edu or (202) 633-8519 to discuss options.