Job Opportunities

For those who love art and history, the National Portrait Gallery is an exciting place to work. Our diverse staff includes curators, researchers, collections managers, designers, administrators, and a wealth of other specialists.

Special Events and Gala Associate

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery seeks a Special Events and Gala Associate with exceptional event planning skills, who will provide support for a hard-working, fast-paced events team. This position is located within the Office of Advancement and will report to the Head of Special Events. This position is best suited for an event professional with strong time management, organizational, and problem-solving skills.

The Special Events Associate position involves event planning and scheduling of corporate and social revenue-generating events and assisting with planning the biennial Portrait of a Nation Gala. The Associate will coordinate with the museum’s Head of Special Events, the Director of Advancement, Gala Co-Chairs, and the offices of communications, exhibitions, curatorial affairs, government relations, and others.  The incumbent must be tactful, diplomatic, nimble, and able to respond quickly with creative solutions to time-sensitive problems.

The successful candidate must possess excellent customer service skills and communicate in an effective and timely manner. Candidates must have the initiative and ability to work independently on multiple projects concurrently, and at times under short deadlines. The incumbent must be able to staff events with the flexibility to work early mornings and late nights and occasional weekends. The candidate must have experience planning and coordinating events for a cultural organization to ensure appropriateness of event components, protocol, and etiquette.

The candidate drafts invitation text and other event related correspondence. The candidate initiates purchase orders and financial arrangements for vendor services and prepares Smithsonian forms, memorandum, and briefings outlining event arrangements. The candidate attends events to ensure all requirements are carried out.

The Special Events and Gala Associate will:

  • Organize corporate and social revenue-generating events for the NPG
  • Meet client representatives; guide them through the museum, and document clients' event purposes and requirements. Develop event proposals to meet clients' needs to host events with NPG
  • Be aware of current industry trends to plan events accordingly
  • Maintain working relationships with businesses, government relations, special events and planning communities for the purpose of encouraging support for the NPG
  • Assist managing the Portrait of a Nation Gala timeline, guest list maintenance, materials, and fundraising spreadsheets
  • Assist with project management of the Gala on a daily basis
  • Prepare materials for regular Gala planning meetings, including agendas, notes, and follow-up actions
  • Assist with fundraising letters, including highly personalized solicitations to top prospects
  • Liaise with event planners and vendors
  • Assist with the design and execution of smaller donor cultivation events leading up to the Gala
  • Maintain a comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the Smithsonian’s infrastructure, policies, and procedures

Qualified candidates must have a bachelor’s degree, at least three years of experience in an events or fundraising office, and experience working on a high-profile fundraising event, preferably one that raised $1 million or more at a large cultural institution or arts-related nonprofit. Superior communication skills and experience working directly with high-level donors and arts patrons is essential.

The National Portrait Gallery tells the multi-faceted story of the United States through individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the National Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives help shape the history of the United States.

The Smithsonian Institution offers a competitive salary and a comprehensive package of benefits. This is not a federal position, but a grade 9 trust position. The salary range is $61,947-$70,207. To learn more about the Smithsonian, please visit Interested candidates should submit their resumes and a cover letter to by December 9, 2022.

The Smithsonian Institution embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity.