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 will remain on view in the National Portrait Gallery’s “Recent Acquisitions” exhibition through Nov. 4, 2018.

2017 Honorees and Prize Presenters

The Committee


H.E. Martin Dahinden, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States,
      and Mrs. Anita Dahinden
Robert and Arlene Kogod
David and Alice Rubenstein


Mr. and Mrs. Michael H. Podell
Joseph P. Ujobai and Eduardo J. Ardiles

Program Chairs
Mr. Tommie L. Pegues and Mr. Donald A. Capoccia

Host Committee
Senator Richard and Cynthia M. Blumenthal
Dorchester Towers & Apartments on Columbia Pike in Arlington
      by Lola C. Reinsch
Steven and Sheila Hamp
Herbalife Nutrition
The Honorable Mary V. Mochary
Rabbi Amy R. and Gary L. Perlin
Roger and Vicki Sant
Karla Scherer and Harve Ferrill

Honorary Committee
Wayne and Catherine Reynolds, American Portrait Gala Founding Chairs
amfAR, the foundation for AIDS Research
Senator Roy Blunt
Congressman Tom Cole
Patrick Ewing
Gerald H. Friedland, M.D.
Jesse Frohman
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Gregory Heisler
Senator Patrick J. Leahy
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Glenn Ligon
Adál Maldonado
Congresswoman Doris Matsui
Andrea Mitchell
Sibylle and Robert Redford
The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York.
Barton Rubenstein

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 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


Image credits:  Madeleine Albright by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, inkjet print, 2005 (printed 2016). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Eugene Eidenberg © 2005, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. David Ho by Gregory Heisler, chromogenic print on polyester base (ilfochrome), 1996. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine © Gregory Heisler. Bill T. Jones by Robert Mapplethorpe, gelatin silver print on paper, 1985. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission. Rita Moreno by ADÁL, gelatin silver print, 1984. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution ©1984 Adál. Spike Lee by Jesse Frohman, inkjet print on paper, 1999 (printed 2014). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the artist © 1999, Jesse Frohman; Esperanza Spalding photograph by Carmen Daneshmandi.