For Teens

Summer Programs

Portraits Alive!

Come see our Portraits Alive! Teen Ambassadors breathe life into portraits in our collection! Our Teen Ambassadors spend six weeks at the National Portrait Gallery conducting research and participating in writing and theatre workshops before performing monologues on a tour of the museum. Interested teens should apply to participate in the Department of Employment Services’ Mayor Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program.

The Portraits Alive! program provides DC teens an opportunity to work at the museum during the summer.  The program takes place over a six-week period, typically late June through early August, for teens ages 16 - 17. Teen Ambassadors learn about portraiture by conducting research about an individual depicted in the Portrait Gallery collection, participating in writing and theater workshops with a local playwright, and creating monologues about their subjects. Costumed to look like their chosen sitters, they perform their speeches in front of the portraits for museum visitors. This interactive tour truly brings the portraits to life!

Students are selected through a partnership with the Department of Employment Services’ Mayor Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program.

Teen Opportunities

Teen Museum Council

Ever wonder what it might be like to work in a museum? Are you curious about American history or pop culture? Do you have a passion for art? Want to create fun activities for your friends and other area teens? Enjoy working with social media? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, join the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery Teen Museum Council.

TMC is a year-long commitment that meets once a week (September-May) on Wednesdays during the school year. Applications to the program are open to D.C. Metro area teens between the ages of 14 and 18 years old. Teens must be enrolled in high school and be in good standing. 

Please note: The application period is now closed.


Group photo of the Teen Museum council - a young diverse group of 13 students

For Teens, By Teens

Portrait Pop-Ups

What does our Teen Museum Council have to say about the Portrait Gallery? Join us in an interactive and lively museum program—you might encounter an art activity, a discussion, or a spontaneous conversation. Pick up a program at the F or G Street desks to find out where we will be in the museum.

Two teens in the museum galleries, presenting a video portrait of musician Esparanza Spalding

Paint Ball

The annual Paint Ball, created by the Portrait Gallery’s Teen Museum Council, is a teen-only night at the museum with dancing, food, photo booth, arts and crafts, and many more activities. Teen Museum Council plans this event during the academic year.

Group portrait of teens at the Paint Ball gathering