The American Portrait Gala 2017

Black and white photograph of a man staring at the viewer with his face behind a camera
Spike Lee / Jesse Frohman / Naitonal Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / Gift of the Artist / © 1999 Jesse Frohman

On Nov. 19, the Portrait Gallery will hold its second biennial American Portrait Gala, honoring five individuals in its collection who have made an impact on the nation’s history, development, and culture. This year’s honorees are former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine K. Albright; 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.

“This year’s honorees represent America’s accomplished experts on the forefront of their diverse fields,” said Kim Sajet, the Portrait Gallery’s director. “It is an honor to host such extraordinary individuals and to further our mission of building the museum’s collection to reflect our society’s change makers, artists, and leaders through portraiture.”

Robert Redford, award-winning actor, director, producer and environmentalist, will present the Portrait of a Nation Prize to Albright; Gerald H. Friedland, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health, Director Emeritus, AIDS Program, School of Medicine, Yale University, to Ho; Glenn Ligon, artist, to Jones; Patrick Ewing, basketball Hall-of-Famer, to Lee; and Andrea Mitchell, NBC News and MSNBC journalist, to Moreno. The evening will culminate with a musical performance by four-time Grammy Award-winning artist Esperanza Spalding.              

The goal of the American Portrait Gala is to raise $1 million to strengthen the museum’s endowment for exhibitions, which sustains our important work, honors our mission, and safeguards our legacy for future generations.

More information on the event and related sponsorship opportunities can be found at