Student taking a school tour

Student Visits

Student programs at the National Portrait Gallery bring students in contact with the men and women who have shaped our nation. Through analysis of the visual elements of portraiture, students explore biography, art, and the American experience. Each standards-based, themed gallery tour is facilitated by specially trained gallery educators and complements curricula in art, history, social studies, and language arts.

For the 2016–17 academic year, the Portrait Gallery offers student programs Monday through Friday, from October 3, 2016, through June 16, 2017. All student programs are seventy-five minutes in length, and are offered at 9:30 a.m. and 11:00.a.m. Special requests for dates and times outside of our regularly scheduled programs are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Portrait Detectives

Grades Kindergarten – 3

Become a Portrait Detective! Young students will search for and analyze clues in portraits to learn more about significant Americans. Through interactive discussions and sketching and writing activities, students will read, compare, and contrast portraits across the collection.

Painting of horses pulling carriages

America's Presidents

Grades 4–12

How has presidential portraiture changed since the days of George Washington? The National Portrait Gallery is proud to hold the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House. This program introduces students to the “America’s Presidents” exhibition and investigates the diverse ways in which presidents have been portrayed in portraiture over the past two centuries.

Portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Douglas Chandor

Shaping America

Grades 4–8

Meet the politicians, reformers, inventors, authors, soldiers and others who shaped the course of American history from the colonial era to the end of the Civil War. Students will analyze portraits to learn about the diverse and significant contributions to American society made by individuals in the Portrait Gallery’s collection.

Portrait of Sequoyah by Henry Inman

The Art of Portraiture

Grades 4–12

How do artists create portraits? Students will take a close look at modern and contemporary portraiture through the lens of artists’ decisions, paying particular attention to the different approaches that artists take to their subject matter and the different processes that they use in making their art.

Painting named "Shimomura Crossing the Delaware" in Japanese style, as commentary on painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware"

Portrait Conversations

Grades 6–12

Travel through the Portrait Gallery’s broad and diverse collection! Students will compare and contrast visual elements in portraits across different historical eras, paying particular attention to differences in style and media and to the variety of historical contributions represented.

Portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver by David Lenz

The Struggle for Justice

Grades 6–12

What does it mean to struggle for justice? Students will explore this question by analyzing portraits of the major cultural and political figures—from key nineteenth-century reformers to modern leaders—who struggled to achieve civil rights for disenfranchised or marginalized groups.

Black and white photo of Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes with fists raised


Contact our Office of Education at NPGEducation@si.edu or
(202) 633-8500