What's On

View of "American Cool" exhibition

Past Exhibitions

  • Man standing near the columns of the Capitol

    In Memoriam: John McCain

    August 27, 2018 - September 9, 2018

    The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life and legacy of late Senator and former presidential nominee John S. McCain III with a photograph by the British-born photographer Steve Pyke.

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  • Early painting of a man at a forge (blacksmithing)

    The Sweat of Their Face: Portraying American Workers

    November 3, 2017 - September 3, 2018
    Second floor

    “The Sweat of Their Face” combines art and social history with representations of American laborers across genres and centuries of art.

    Image: Pat Lyon at the Forge by John B. Neagle / 1829, Oil on canvas / Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Gift of the Lyon Family, 1842.1


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  • Man conducting an orchestra

    Celebrate: Leonard Bernstein’s 100th Birthday

    August 23, 2018 - August 27, 2018

    Aug. 25 marks the 100th birthday of the late American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer and pianist Leonard Bernstein.

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  • Colorful poster of a woman singing

    In Memoriam: Aretha Franklin

    August 17, 2018 - August 22, 2018

    The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life of acclaimed singer and musician Aretha Franklin.

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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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  • Black and white portrait of a man in a white suit

    In Memoriam: Tom Wolfe

    May 16, 2018 - June 3, 2018

    The National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life of acclaimed journalist and author Tom Wolfe with a photograph by Yousuf Karsh.

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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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