What's On

Glass bell jars with light reflecting of their surfaces

Current Exhibitions

  • Model of the POB see from above

    Celebrating Fifty Years

    August 11, 2017 - January 6, 2019
    Second floor

    In 1968, following major renovations, the Old Patent Office Building opened as the permanent home for two Smithsonian museums, the National Collection of Fine Arts (since renamed the Smithsonian American Art Museum) and the National Portrait Gallery. This exhibition marks the fiftieth anniversary of that grand event.

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  • young woman with dark hair and bangs (Sylvia Plath)

    One Life: Sylvia Plath

    June 30, 2017 - May 20, 2018
    First floor

    “One Life: Sylvia Plath” is the first exploration of the poet and writer’s life in an art and history museum. The exhibition reveals how Plath shaped her identity visually as she came of age as a writer in the 1950s.

    Image: Sylvia Plath by Rollie McKenna / 1959 (printed later), Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Rollie McKenna © Rosalie Thorne McKenna Foundation, courtesy Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona Foundation

     

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  • Daguerreotype of an older woman (Dolley Madison) and a younger woman (Anna Payne)

    Antebellum Portraits by Mathew Brady

    June 16, 2017 - June 3, 2018
    First floor

    This Daguerreian Gallery exhibition will trace the trajectory of Brady’s early career through portrait daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and salted-paper prints in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

    Image: Dolley Madison and Anna Payne / Unidentified Artist, copy after: Mathew B. Brady / c. 1848, Quarter-plate daguerreotype / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Dortha Louise Dobson Adem Rogus, direct descendant of Dolley Madison

     

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  • Wonam in a white pantsuit and white beret on a chaise lounge

    Marlene Dietrich: Dressed for the Image

    June 16, 2017 - April 15, 2018
    Second floor

    Marlene Dietrich brought androgyny to the silver screen through her roles in such movies as Morocco (1930) and Seven Sinners (1940).

    Marlene Dietrich: Dressed for the Image was organized in cooperation with Deutsche Kinemathek – Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin.
    This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of Tom L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia.  Additional support received from the American Portrait Gala Endowment.

    Image: Marlene Dietrich on the SS Europa, 1933, Cherbourg, France / Paul Cwojdzinski / 1933, Photograph / Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin, Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin, Germany

     

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  • Young soldier in fatigues looking tired and worn and directly at the camera

    The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now

    April 7, 2017 - January 28, 2018
    First floor

    The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now explores and assesses the human costs of ongoing wars through portraiture. 

    Image: Afghanistan, Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, 2007. Lieutenant Piosa / Tim Hetherington / 2007 (printed 2016), Pigmented inkjet print / Courtesy Tim Hetherington Trust

     

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  • Formal photographic portrait of Phineas Barnum

    Lincoln's Contemporaries

    May 13, 2016 - May 12, 2019
    First floor, Meserve Corridor

    Who were Abraham Lincoln’s contemporaries? They included many fascinating people beyond the politicians and military leaders of the Civil War.

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Permanent Exhibitions

  • Painted portrait of Bill and Melinda Gates in their home, lake in the background

    20th Century Americans

    Ongoing
    Third floor

    Four galleries off of the museum’s magnificent third-floor Great Hall, showcase the major cultural and political hallmarks of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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  • Portrait of Meryl Pocahontas

    American Origins

    Ongoing
    First floor

    A “conversation about America” is on view in a series of 18 galleries and alcoves chronologically arranged to take the visitor from the days of contact between Native Americans and European explorers through the struggles of independence to the Gilded Age.

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  • Painted portrait of Ethel Merman in a cowgirl outfit with a rifle slung over her shoulder

    Bravo!

    Ongoing
    Third floor mezzanine

    BRAVO! showcases individuals who have brought the performing arts to life, beginning with P.T. Barnum, who raised the curtain on modern entertainment in the late-19th century and continuing through the present.

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  • Dempsey-Willard Fight Jack Dempsey and Jess Willard Artist: James Montgomery Flagg  1944 Oil on canvas

    Champions

    Ongoing
    Third floor mezzanine

    “Champions” salutes dynamic American sports figures whose impact beyond the athletic realm made them part of the larger story of the nation. A lively combination of portraits, artifacts, memorabilia and videos enhances the exhibition.

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  • Chlld stacking blocks -- each block has a photograph of part of someone's face.

    Explore! with the National Portrait Gallery

    Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    First floor

    The National Portrait Gallery opens its first-ever space dedicated to children. In Explore! kids can experiment with portraiture hands-on to answer questions such as “What is a portrait?” “How do I see myself?” and “How do others see me?”

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  • Sculpture of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney

    Jo Davidson: Biographer in Bronze

    Ongoing
    Second floor

    Fourteen portraits in bronze and terra-cotta made by renowned American sculptor Jo Davidson between 1908 and 1946 are on view. These include depictions of Gertrude Stein, Franklin D. Roosevelt, artist John Marin, and Lincoln Steffens.

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  • Oil painting of woman with red scarf

    Recent Acquisitions

    Ongoing, current display on view through October 30, 2017
    First floor

    This annual exhibition features 29 objects that showcase some of the newest additions to the museum’s collection.

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  • The "Four Justices Painting" by Nelson Shanks

    The Four Justices

    Ongoing
    Second floor

    The National Portrait Gallery celebrated the arrival of Nelson Shanks’s The Four Justices, a tribute to the four female justices who have served on the U.S. Supreme Court.

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  • Portrait of Rosa Parks

    The Struggle for Justice

    Ongoing
    Second floor

    “The Struggle for Justice” showcases the determined men and women—from key nineteenth-century historical figures to contemporary leaders—who struggled to achieve civil rights for disenfranchised or marginalized groups.

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