The Portraits

Collage of portrait images from the TIME collection

The TIME Collection

In 1978, TIME Magazine donated approximately 800 works of original cover art to the National Portrait Gallery. Since this initial gift, TIME has continued to donate covers of painting, photography, collage, even sculpture, growing the Portrait Gallery's TIME Collection to over 2,000 pieces. Because the National Portrait Gallery is focused on telling the stories of the men and women who have built America, TIME's collection of cover art—featuring portraits of newsworthy, influential individuals—has been especially meaningful to the museum's collections and programs.

The TIME collection has been conserved, digitized, and catalogued through the generous support of the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation.

Explore the Collection

  • Three women (conservators) examine a painting to be treated

    Conservators perform  an initial  examination of a painting scheduled for treatment.

  • Carefully paring away an acidic window mat that was previously adhered to the front edges of the artwork, on top of the paint and photographs.  

  • The layers of the window matboard were carefully removed layer by layer using a scalpel.

  • Two views of a soldier's portrait, cone with adhesive damage and the toher after the adhesive was removed.

    Starting to go Home by Hector Garrido / Oil and photos on Masonite, 1969
    Left: During treatment. Paper and adhesive layers remained attached, visible at the lower left, top left and right center.
    Right: After treatment.

  • Male subject wearing spectacles, plaid shirt and tie, and smoking a cigar.

    Groucho Marx by Ernest Hamlin Baker / Graphite pencil on thin card, 1951
    An acidic window mat was adhered to the front edges of the paper support. The window mat was pared away and the water soluble adhesives were softened with moisture and removed using a microspatula. 
    Left: During Treatment
    Right: After Treatment.

  • After conservation, portraits are sent to the Photo Services department for digital scanning.

  • YOung woman placing a work of art on the scanner

    Portrait is measured and carefully placed on the Cruse scanner bed in preparation for scanning.

  • Young woman standing next to a large flatbed scanning device

    Using the Cruse scanner, high-resolution images are created of each portrait.

  • View of a hallway in the Hollywood and TIME exhibition  with several portraits on the wall

    View of the recent exhibition, Hollywood and TIME: Celebrity Covers, on view April 1, 2016 through September 11, 2016.