What's On

Glass bell jars with light reflecting of their surfaces

Current Exhibitions

  • Woman in a long yellow dress with her arms outstretched

    Recent Acquisitions

    November 16, 2018 - November 3, 2019

    As the Portrait Gallery turns the corner on a new decade of its legacy, the museum will present an exhibition of historic and contemporary works newly acquired for its growing collection.

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  • Photograph of a man taking a picture through a plate glass window

    Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today

    November 2, 2018 - August 18, 2019

    Drawing primarily from the National Portrait Gallery’s vast collection of self-portraits, this exhibition will explore how American artists have chosen to portray themselves since the beginning of the last century.

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  • Colorful poster of young people (hippies) from 1968

    One Year: 1968, An American Odyssey

    June 29, 2018 - May 19, 2019

    As part of a series of installations celebrating its golden anniversary, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will present “One Year: 1968, An American Odyssey,” a one-room exhibition that looks back at an extraordinarily important and memorable time in American history.

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  • Portrait of a 19th century woman seated at a small table

    Daguerreotypes: Five Decades of Collecting

    June 15, 2018 - June 2, 2019

    The 2018 installation of the Daguerreian Gallery celebrates the National Portrait Gallery’s golden anniversary by highlighting fifty years of daguerreotype collecting by the museum.

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  • Woman in a red dress standing against a patterned background

    New Co-Acquisition: Henrietta Lacks

    May 15, 2018 - March 31, 2019

    The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life of Henrietta Lacks with the installation of a 2017 portrait by Kadir Nelson.

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  • 19th century silhouette of an artist painting at his easel

    Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now

    May 11, 2018 - March 10, 2019

    With both historical and contemporary explorations into the silhouette, Black Out reveals new pathways between our past and present, particularly with regard to how we can reassess notions of race, power, individualism, and even, our digital selves.

    Tour Schedule:

    Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
    April 27 to August 25, 2019

    Birmingham Museum of Art, AL
    September 28, 2019 to January 12, 2020

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  • Mummified figures in a landscape

    UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar

    March 23, 2018 - January 6, 2019

    The exhibition highlights the work of two leading contemporary artists who grapple with the under- and misrepresentation of certain minorities in portraiture and American history.

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  • 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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  • 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

    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

    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 George Washington with hand outstretched

    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 will be back on view in the newly refurbished “America’s Presidents” gallery.

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


    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


    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 daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Hours subject to change.
    First floor

    In Explore! with the Portrait Gallery, kids can experiment with portraiture in an age-appropriate way to answer questions such as “What is a portrait?” “How do I see myself?” and “How do others see me?”

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  • African American woman in a colorful dress seated against a blue background

    Former First Lady, Michelle Obama by Artist Amy Sherald

    "20th Century Americans" exhibition, third floor

    Former First Lady Michelle Obama by artist Amy Sherald.  Portrait now on view in in 20th Century Americans on the third floor.
    No tickets or reservations are required to view the portrait.

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  • African American man seated in a chair in foliage

    Former President Barack Obama by Artist Kehinde Wiley

    "America's Presidents" exhibition, second floor

    Former President Barack Obama by artist Kehinde Wiley now in view in America's Presidents.
    No tickets or reservations are necessary to view the portrait

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  • A man (Barack Obama) speaking at a podium in front of his portrait

    National Portrait Gallery Unveils and Installs Presidential Portraits


    National Portrait Gallery unveiled the portraits of former President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama on February 12. The portraits are currently on view in America's Presidents and 20th Century Americans, respectively.

    No tickets or reservations are required to view the portraits.


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  • The "Four Justices Painting" by Nelson Shanks

    The Four Justices

    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

    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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