What's On

View of "American Cool" exhibition

Past Exhibitions

  • 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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  • Wonam in a black coat standing on a green lawn with a dog

    In Memoriam: Barbara Bush

    April 18, 2018 - April 29, 2018

    The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life of Barbara Bush with a photograph by Diana Walker taken in 1989.

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  • African American man with his chin resting on his crossed hands

    Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

    April 4, 2018 - April 17, 2018

    The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by displaying his likeness by Jack Lewis Hiller. The photograph will be on view beginning April 4 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the influential civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s assassination.

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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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  • Brzone sculpture of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney

    Jo Davidson: Biographer in Bronze

    July 1, 2006 - November 5, 2017
    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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