American Portrait Gala

Recognizing the accomplishments of notable contemporary Americans whose portraits reside in the National Portrait Gallery collection.

Save the Date

Sunday, November 17, 2019
National Portrait Gallery
Washington, DC

For Event Inquiries: (202) 633-8553 or email
For Media Inquiries: (202) 633-2585 or email

Event Recap

On Sunday, November 19, 2017, the second biennial American Portrait Gala raised $1 million in support of the museum’s compelling exhibitions program.

The black tie event included a chic cocktail reception, seated dinner for 400 beneath the glittering glass canopy of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, and a musical performance by four-time Grammy Award-winning artist Esperanza Spalding. During dinner, guests enjoyed presentations of the Portrait of a Nation Prize, recognizing former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine K. Albright; medical doctor and HIV/AIDS researcher David D. Ho, M.D.; artistic director, choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones; film director, producer, writer and actor Spike Lee; and multi-award-winning actress Rita Moreno. All recipients have portraits in the museum’s collection and have made significant contributions to the nation’s shared history, development, and culture in fields as diverse as politics, diplomacy, science, the arts, entertainment, and human rights. The portraits of the award recipients remained on view in the National Portrait Gallery’s “Recent Acquisitions” exhibition through Nov. 4, 2018.

Portrait of a Nation Prize

The National Portrait Gallery worked closely with internationally renowned sculptor and public artist Barton Rubenstein to create the Portrait of a Nation Prize, a limited edition award constructed of mirror polished stainless steel.

American Portrait Gala Archive


On Sunday, November 19, 2017, the second biennial American Portrait Gala honored:

Dr. Madeleine K. Albright

Prize presenter: Robert Redford

Bill T. Jones

Prize presenter: Glenn Ligon

David D. Ho, MD

Prize presenter: Gerald H. Friedland, MD

Spike Lee

Prize presenter: Patrick Ewing

Rita Moreno

Prize presenter: Andrea Mitchell


On Sunday, November 15, 2015, the National Portrait Gallery was pleased to honor:

Aretha Franklin

Prize presenter: The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Carolina Herrera

Prize presenter: Lee Daniels

Corporal Kyle Carpenter

Prize presenter: General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., USMC

Hank Aaron

Prize presenter: The Honorable John Lewis

Maya Lin

Prize presenter: David Adjaye